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Obesity and Lower Back Pain


For years, doctors have linked obesity and lower back pain together. Obese patients who complained of pain were told they would have to lose weight in order to have relief but recent studies show that this may not be the case. Telling an obese patient that he needs to lose weight to feel better, may actually have the opposite effect and increase the pain.

Maintaining a healthy weight is vital to your overall health. A person who stays within a healthy weight range will have more energy, feel better and be more confident than someone who is overweight. Obesity can contribute to a variety of medical conditions that can include diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes and even strained muscles but there is no proof that it causes chronic lower back pain.

In fact, studies show that there is no relationship between obesity and lower back pain, herniated disc, knee problems or osteoarthritis. Having any of these conditions when you’re overweight is a mere coincidence. However, in some cases it may contribute to the pain or cause other medical conditions that can cause pain in your lower back region.

What Causes Chronic Lower Back Pain

If being overweight is not the cause of your chronic lower back pain, then what is? In many cases, the pain is caused by too much stress. Physicians are learning that there is a real connection between your emotional state and pain in the lower back region and it’s not all in your head. The pain is real and it can be life altering.

Here’s how it works. When unresolved emotional issues begin to build up and eventually become overwhelming, your brain goes into defense mode. It begins to limit the blood flow to your lower back, which decreases the oxygen levels in this area. Eventually the pain will begin.

The pressure of trying to stay on a healthy diet and exercise can add even more stress, which causes more pain. The more pain a person experiences, the harder it is to lose weight and you end up falling into a vicious cycle that never seems to end.

How Do You Get Rid of the Pain?

If losing weight won’t help eliminate the pain in your lower back, how to do get rid of it so you can feel better again? When stress is the culprit, you need to find ways to deal with the stress in a healthy manner. Look for ways to eliminate some of the stress and to find a release such as exercise or a hobby. You can also talk to friends, family or a professional who can help you learn ways to cope with stress.

Being obese will not cause chronic lower back pain, which means that losing weight will not in itself eliminate the problem. However, it can make you feel better about yourself and more confident, which can help to relieve some of the stress. As a result, this can help reduce and maybe eventually eliminate the pain.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to take steps to get rid of those extra pounds but it doesn’t guarantee the pain will go away. The key is stress management. Learning to cope with your repressed emotions and daily stress will help. Once you get it under control you’ll feel better, which will make it easier to change your diet and start up an exercise program that will help you lose weight for all the right reasons.