The Southeastern Spine Institute

Back pain is the leading cause of discomfort today. Four out of five Americans will experience lower back pain in their lifetimes. You’re especially susceptible if you’re carrying excess weight. In fact, one out of three people classified as overweight suffers from back pain. Avoiding back pain is a topic almost everyone’s interested in.

The best way to avoid back pain that’s caused by excess weight is … to lose weight. Every pound lost is another pound no longer weighing you down and wreaking havoc on the muscles and ligaments supporting your spine and keeping you upright. So, to lose your back pain, it’s important for you to concentrate on losing weight.

Types of Back Pain

Back pain may seem like a very cut-and-dried issue, but in reality, there are different types of back pain. Each can cause a variety of symptoms, so it’s important to recognize the differences. Types of back pain include:

  • Acute back pain lasts between a few days and a few weeks.
  • Subacute back pain lasts between four and twelve weeks.
  • Chronic back pain persists for more than 12 weeks.

Acute back pain, otherwise known as short-term back pain, tends to resolve easily and on its own with just self-care. Subacute back pain lasts longer and usually is more serious, requiring treatment by a spine expert. Chronic back pain is the most serious. Being overweight or obese usually leads to chronic back pain that’s really difficult to manage without losing at least some of the weight that caused it.

How Weight Affects Back Pain

Carrying excess weight puts unwanted stress on your spine that makes avoiding back pain that much harder. To make up for the extra weight, the spine can become tilted and strained unevenly. This could even cause you to eventually develop an unnatural curvature of the spine.

Extra weight in your abdomen or chest can pull you forward due to gravity. To compensate for it, you tend to stay leaning back. Constant use of your extension muscles in this way means that they never get to rest. It can also cause your lumbar, or lower back, to curve in the direction that it’s being pulled. This in turn obstructs circulation, which does nothing to help you in avoiding back pain.

How to Lose Your Back Pain

Finding ways to lose weight can change your life. And one of the greatest benefits is avoiding back pain. Losing even a few pounds of that extra weight makes a difference. Weight loss of at least five percent may decrease stress on your back as well as your joints and knees. Not only that, but every pound adds strain to the muscles and ligaments in your back, meaning that attention to overall weight loss is incredibly important when avoiding back pain and joint disorders.

To achieve this, it’s important to keep a strict eye on your diet and exercise habits. Dieting is the most effective way to lose weight, but exercise too has its benefits. Talk to your doctor and physical therapist at Southeastern Spine Institute to get some exercise ideas, as well as a diet plan to get you on track for avoiding back pain for good.