Obesity and Pain in the Back

The modern way of preparing food has imposed a severe threat to the society – obesity. According to the American Obesity Association (AOA), 64.5%, or 127 million of American adults experience either overweight or obesity problems. Children rarely indulge in sports activities anymore; preferring to spend time in front of the computer eating unhealthy snacks rather than take up a sport for a hobby.

Although there isn’t sufficient and concrete evidence that the body mass index (BMI) has an impact on the back pain, many studies show that these two medical problems are related. In fact, the rates for back surgery are higher in overweight patients than the rates in healthy weight patients. For healthy weight patients, back pain surgery fails in only 14% of the cases, whereas more problems are experienced by patients whose BMI is greater than 40. This article is not written by or checked for accuracy by a medical doctor. Please consult with your physician for treatment options.

The lower spine in the back is the most fragile part of the spine that obesity effects. Generally, obese patients also lack flexibility and have weaker back muscles resulting in pain. In addition, weight bearing joints like the knees, hips and feet, risk being afflicted by osteoarthritis.

Studies also suggest that losing a significant amount of weight has the tendency to alleviate the back pain suffered, as it decreases problems with apnea positioning and lowers blood pressure.

The back pain types that are likely to be caused by obesity are osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. The most common obesity-related dangers during back surgery include hypoxia-hypoventilation. This is a condition where not enough oxygen circulates the body, therefore hindering the ability to breathe. Doctors also find it harder to monitor blood pressure in obese patients.

Post-surgery complications that are weight relevant are diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, hypertension, airway obstruction, liver disease and nerve compressions. Like most cases of surgery performed on obese patients, undergoing back surgery is often an individual choice of treating one medical problem bearing the potential of another medical problem.

Whilst the possibility to fail is high, most surgeons still believe that back surgery is the most common solution to treat most low back pains. This is mainly due to the fact that back pain rarely subsides with time. However, undergoing minimally invasive spine surgery generally poses lower risks than traditional surgeries, and is hence often recommended for obese patients.

This article is not written by or checked for accuracy by a medical doctor. Please consult with your physician for treatment options.





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