Obesity and the Relation to Lower Back Problems

The number of people suffering from lower back pain has nearly doubled since the 1990s, and recent studies have found that the rising obesity epidemic in the United States may be a contributing factor. Chronic lower back pain is the second most common disability in America, and more than 80% of all Americans will experience some form of lower back pain in their lifetime.

Obesity Medical Complications Diagram

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Medical_Complications_of_Obesity.svg
 
In addition to causing lower back problems, obesity is also know to affect the liver, lungs, and increase the chance of having a stroke.

To understand how obesity is quickly becoming a leading cause of lower back pain, it is important to educate yourself on how the spinal column works. Think of your spine as the anchor of your body, it holds the branches of nerves that allow the your limbs to feel and move and your vertebra provide support and mobility. People who fall in the healthy weight range have a spine with minimal pressure placed upon it, but people who are overweight or obese have extra weight around the middle pressing directly against the spine and limiting the range of motion of the vertebra. This pressure can cause pain, particularly in the lower back.

Over time, if a person does not lose weight, this pressure can cause problems far more severe than aches and pains. People with obesity are at higher risk of developing a herniated disc, where the spine’s outer fibers are worn away exposing the nerves housed in the spinal column. A herniated disc can be extremely painful, and recovering from one can be very difficult if the pressure from being overweight is still pressing against the disc. Obesity can also cause osteoarthritis of the spine, which wears away at the spine and decreases mobility. Carrying extra weight around your midsection can pull your pelvis forward, causing a condition known as Lordosis, or a curved lower back. Lordosis causes strain in the lower back causing the muscles to contract and tighten, which leads to extreme chronic pain. People with a high BMI are also more prone to developing Diffuse Idiopathic Hyperostosis (DISH), a hardening of the ligaments in the spine.

While chiropractic adjustments may help realign your spine and reduce your pain, it can not fully cure your condition if you remain overweight. If your weight stays the same, so does the pressure on your lower back and chiropractic adjustments may only postpone inevitable complications that will later arise. Think of it as taking a step forward every time you visit your chiropractor for an adjustment and then taking two steps back as soon as you leave and the pressure continues to press against your spine, wearing down your vertebra and making you more prone to injury. Losing weight is one of the most important things you can do to preserve your lower back health.

Bluestone Chiropractic Group has several doctors in our network who are Registered Dieticians in addition to working as licensed chiropractors. Our doctors will assess your weight and help you learn to make healthier choices in regard to your diet. They will help you develop an exercise plan to shed excess pounds and guide you into a healthier lifestyle in addition to making adjustments to help alleviate your pain. If you are suffering from obesity and lower back pain, visit your local Bluestone Chiropractic Group office today and look forward to a healthier, pain-free tomorrow.

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