Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomeCauseDoes Being Overweight Cause Lower Back Pain

Does Being Overweight Cause Lower Back Pain

Losing Weight Helps With Your Sciatica

Can Being Overweight Cause Back Pain?

Losing weight is in fact very beneficial for alleviating sciatica pain. Even a little bit of weight loss can begin to reduce inflammation and stress on your sciatic nerve. A well-structured weight loss program that promotes gradual weight loss is your best option.

For best results, youll want to exercise regularly as well. We understand that it can often be difficult for those with sciatic pain to exercise, and thats why Dr. Jones can refer you to a physical therapist who will work around your sciatic pain and help strengthen your muscles. This helps tremendously in avoiding reinjury and promoting long-term pain management.

Come To Atlas For Spine

If back pain is interfering with your quality of life, we can help. At Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center, located in Phoenix and Sun City West, Arizona, our experienced providers can give you the spinal and nerve care you need to feel good and do the activities you enjoy. Make an appointment by calling one of our offices, or request an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy…

Can Having A Big Belly Cause Back Pain

Coming to the question of how being overweight or having a big belly can lead to back pain, in medical science the spine of our body is designed in such a way that it carries the weight of the body and maintains balance and distributes the weight during periods of rest and activity. If an individual is overweight or having a big belly, the spine is forced to carry that extra weight on itself and is not able to distribute to other parts of the body. This results in the spine being overworked resulting in damage to the spine and causing back pain. The area of the spine which is most sensitive and often breaks down due to extra weight is the lower back or the lumbar spine. Because of this damage, the individual suffers unrelenting back pain.

Also Check: Why Is My Lower Back And Hip Hurting

Obesity Back Pain Scenarios

Obesity can be measured by a relatively complicated scale called body mass index . It is easier to consider obesity to be the condition described as 20% greater weight than normal for a persons height, body structure and age. Obesity is becoming an epidemic in many regions of the world, especially in America.

Many back pain conditions are aggravated by bearing any weight on the affected area of the back. An overweight individual places much more stress on the painful area, since it has to support all that extra mass. The actual physical weight can be the cause of the increased pain.


More mass = More force on the spine.

Obese people often have a majority of their excess body fat around the abdomen. This extra frontal weight places additional stress on the lower back. The weight is not distributed evenly and can cause back muscle pain and strain very similar to that experienced by a pregnant woman. The result of this forward weight is often an increase in the lordotic curve of the lumbar spine.

Obese people usually do not exercise as often, or as rigorous, as thinner individuals. This lack of exercise contributes to poor muscle tone and reduced strength in the back muscles. Muscles that are out of shape do not have the same resistance to pain and stress as strong, healthy muscles.

A Herniated Or Slipped Disc

Disease Graphics, Videos &  Images on Spinal Stenosis

If you feel severe, sharp pain shooting through your lumbar region when walking, you might be experiencing sciatica from a slipped disc.

The bones that make up your spine are cushioned by small discs. These discs absorb shock and help protect the spinal cord. If a disc slips out of place, it can press on the spinal nerve and cause severe pain.9

What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

Symptoms may vary depending on the location and size of the injured disc. If the disc is pressing on a nerve, the symptoms may be more severe, as with sciatica.

Sciatica may cause a shooting pain, burning, tingling or numbness that occurs anywhere along the sciatic nerve from the buttocks to the legs.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Lumbar spinal pain
  • Severe, electric shock-like pain
  • A sedentary lifestyle11

What To Do If You Think You Have A Herniated or Ruptured Disc

Don’t Miss: How To Fix Lower Back Muscle Pain

Can Obesity And Back Pain Cause Disability

Obesity is defined as a complex chronic disease which is characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity by itself is not considered a disability by the social security administration but if it is coupled with other medical conditions like back pain then the persons weight can play a significant role in being considered for disability benefits. Obesity is a risk factor that increases the individuals chance of developing impairments in most body systems. It commonly leads to, and often complicates, chronic diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal body systems.

If a person is extremely obese and suffers from back pain then there is a high possibility that the person also has problems with ambulating, bending, prolonged standing, needing an assistive device to walk or require assistance from sit to stand etc affecting his activities of daily living and his ability to work full time even in a sedentary jobs.

If you are Obese and having back pain related problems which is making it difficult to work, then you need to call an experienced social security disability attorney to seek their opinion on whether to apply for disability benefits or not. Having a disability attorney representing your case for obesity and back pain is recommended to qualify for disability benefits.

Other Potential Causes Of Lower Back Pain When Walking

Lower back pain when walking is not limited to these causes. Here are some other potential causes of lower back pain when walking:

  • Cauda Equina Syndrome

The compression of nerve roots, commonly resulting from a herniated disc in the lumbar area.15

  • Degenerative Disc Disease

Can be caused by the drying out of a disc, daily physical activity and sports, or injury.16

  • Compression Fractures

When part of a bone in the spine, a.k.a. a vertebrae, collapses.17See Your Doctor for Lower Back Pain When Walking

You dont want to gamble with your back health. Call your doctor to advise you on any type of treatment. Heres what your doctor might recommend:

  • NSAIDs
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture

While youll always want to call your doctor for advice, especially if your pain is severe, there are also several things you can do at home that might help you manage lower back pain.

  • Change up your exercise routine
  • Apply heating pads and ice packs
  • Buy a more supportive mattress
  • Pay attention to your posture
  • Lose weight
  • Focus on relaxing and natural stress relief18

Don’t Miss: How To Get Your Lower Back To Stop Hurting

Research: There Is A Link Between A Big Belly And Back Paincommon Sense: There Is A Link Between A Big Belly And Back Pain

Researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria conducted a study that lasted over 35 years. They followed patients throughout their lives to determine what impact abdominal obesity had on their back pain and general health. Here is what 35 years of research revealed:

You lose your independence faster if you have a big belly and you will become dependent.

  • Compared to people with normal weight, people with obesity more often reported a poor health status
  • Compared to people with normal weight, people with obesity reported an earlier loss of mobility and researchers noted a greater earlier death risk.
  • Obesity-associated diseases and disorders, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, malignant tumors, and back pain are on the rise.

Note: When someone comes into one of our clinics, one of the greatest fears they have is the loss of independence, loss of mobility, and the need to depend on others to help them get around. The evidence is clear, people rid themselves of these fears when they embark on a program to get rid of their big belly.

The evidence presented by the Austrian team:

For many people, it would seem obvious, a large belly is putting mechanical stress on the spine and that is the cause of back problems.

Fat Can Release Harmful Chemicals

Can Belly Fat Cause Lower Back Pain: Q& A

Your spare tire isnt just a blob of inert tissue. Fat can secrete chemicals that contribute to painful inflammation. Over time, these chemicals can wear down components of your skeleton.

Belly fat may have a more important role in this chemical release than fat deposits elsewhere. Consider the study in PLOS ONE that examined potential links between obesity and degenerative disc disease. Researchers found a connection in obese men, but not in obese women. They suspect this is because men tend to store fat in their bellies, whereas women tend to store it in their buttocks and thighs. Weight carried in the abdomen can accentuate lordosis while weight carried in the legs tends to do so less.

Mechanical stress in this case, the extra force placed on the spine by a large abdomen is a factor in disc degeneration. But the authors also say metabolically active fat tissue has an important role in disc degeneration as well.

Don’t Miss: What Can I Do To Help My Lower Back Pain

Obesity And Lower Back Painthe Threshold Factor

Excess body weight, or obesity, may endup being the straw that broke the camel’s back. In other words, itmay be enough to put you over the pain threshold if you already havea lower back condition that is not symptomatic .

Obesity, by all means, can be acontributing or aggravating factor in many lower back pain cases. Butto simply blame obesity as the primary cause may not be accurate.

Weight Strains Your Spine

Your spine is made up of bones stacked on top of each other, with jelly-filled disks that act as cushions between your vertebrae. A series of nerves extend through the length of your spine in a space known as the central canal. Muscles and ligaments support your spine and hold it in place.

Your spine is designed to handle pressure and movement. However, when youre overweight or obese, excess pressure can strain the various parts of your spine, resulting in pain that can range from uncomfortable to debilitating.

Recommended Reading: Can A Chiropractor Help My Back Pain

Belly Fat Can Damage Your Bones

Your bones constantly renew themselves, but body fat can interfere with the process potentially leading to osteoporosis over time. Visceral fat, which is fat deep inside the abdomen , could have a significant role.

Belly fat aka visceral fat is usually considered the most detrimental to your health, but don’t forget subcutaneous fat either.

Several studies associate visceral fat with lower bone mineral density, as well as increased risk of some types of fractures. However, its worth noting that not all scientists agree that visceral fat is the problem. Some say the damage occurs with high body mass and excess weight, not just high levels of visceral fat.

Belly Fat Interferes With Ankylosing Spondylitis Treatment

Lower back pain: Causes include being overweight

If you have ankylosing spondylitis , youre no stranger to chronic back pain. The inflammatory disease can cause vertebrae to fuse over time. Your back might be super stiff, or you might have a permanently hunched posture.

Disease-modifying medications can improve symptoms and slow the disease process. However, being overweight can reduce the drugs effectiveness. Belly fat in particular has been singled out as a problem for drug absorption.

For a study in Clinical and Investigative Medicine, scientists set out to discover if visceral fat not BMI independently predicted diminished response to the disease-modifying drug infliximab. They found that it did. In fact, they found a significant correlation between visceral fat tissue and disease activity in people with AS who received this treatment.

Don’t Miss: Can Walking Help Lower Back Pain

What Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:


  • Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
  • Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.


  • Sprains , strains , and spasms
  • Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.

Degenerative problems

  • Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
  • Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
  • Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.

Nerve and spinal cord problems

Non-spine sources

Chronic Low Back Pain Of No Specific Origin

Low back pain is defined as pain, tightness, and stiffness between the lower end of the rib cage and the buttocks. “Chronic” means the pain has lasted for twelve weeks or longer, and “no specific origin” means the pain cannot be traced to any specific cause, incident, or injury.

Most susceptible are individuals who perform heavy physical work, especially when there is ongoing anxiety, depression, and emotional stress at the same time. The longer the stress and back pain continue, the more difficult it is to ease the symptoms and return the patient to normal functioning.

Treatment involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes opioid medications for pain, though both have risks when used long term. Antidepressants may also be tried, along with psychological counseling.

Corticosteroid injections for the back are effective for some patients, and fusion surgery is sometimes attempted. Lifestyle changes in the form of improved diet, exercise, and stress management are very helpful in most cases.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, unintentional weight loss, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, involuntary defecation

Symptoms that always occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: lower back pain

Symptoms that never occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: thigh numbness, buttocks numbness, lower back pain from an injury

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Also Check: How To Get Relief From Lower Back Muscle Pain

What Health Issues Can It Cause

Not only can pressure on the spinal cord cause back pain, but it can also lead to a number of isolated conditions that each have different symptoms and treatments that you need to be aware of.

For instance, pressure on the spinal cord can speed up the process of degenerative discs in your spine and can lead to the discs between your vertebrae to weaken. Not only this but being overweight also encourages the progress of other age-related conditions, such as osteoarthritis. This is because, when you are overweight, the cartilage between the joints wears more easily and the circulation in your body lessens.

There are also other common conditions that you could be subject to if you are overweight. These include herniated disks, which occur when the inside of your vertebrae bursts and protrudes through the outer part of your spine. Bulging disks and compression fractures are also common, which happen when vertebrae protrude from their normal position, and when the bones in your spine break, respectively.

Lumbar Sprain Or Muscle Strain Could Be To Blame

Low Back Pain And Obesity Part 1

Your lower spine is supported by a network of soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. If you feel irritation, muscle spasms, or tightness across your lower back, hips, or buttocks when walking, the tissues may be damaged. This can lead to lumbar sprain or muscle strain.6

What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Sprain and Muscle Strain?

When you sprain or strain your lumbar spine, the soft tissues in your back can become aggravated and inflamed. The pain can range from slight to debilitating. Depending on the extent of the injury, you may experience:

  • Muscles spasms
  • Stiffness or soreness in your lower back
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Tightness in lower back muscles
  • Pain that radiates from your back to your buttocks7

Possible Causes Of Lumbar Sprain And Muscle Strain

You can strain your lower back by pulling or twisting your lower back muscles suddenly or awkwardly. Chronic strain can occur if you overuse muscles in a repetitive fashion.

Remember the old saying, Lift with your legs, not with your back? You can also experience muscle strain by lifting something improperly or by putting too much stress on your back muscles.

Lumbar sprain can occur when one or more ligaments in your back are stretched beyond their normal range.

This can happen after a fall, an unexpected twist, or a forceful blow to your body.

Excessive activity from aerobic exercise or low-impact exercise can cause a sprain. Displaying incorrect form while exercising can also be troublesome.

Read Also: What To Do When Your Lower Back Hurts Really Bad

Core Exercises Can Help

Weight loss through exercise and diet is an obvious solution to weight-related back pain. However, strengthening your core is just as important. Dr. Peterson encourages core strengthening exercises to build muscle and better support the spine.

Peterson noted that some patients struggle to do exercises because of their back pain. In those instances, Peterson recommends being active in any way possible.

In those cases, we may resort to aquatic exercises, which patients may be able to tolerate better, Peterson said. I always encourage people to approach weight loss slowly. Going for a slow walk or riding on a stationary bike with low resistance can help.

There Are Different Types Of Back Pain

Back pain can be acute or chronic . It can feel like a sudden, sharp pain or a dull, constant ache.

Acute back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Its often caused by an accident, fall, or lifting something thats too heavy. Acute back pain usually gets better on its own, without any treatment. But there may be times when you need to get medical care. Find out when to call a doctor or nurse about back pain.

Chronic back pain lasts for more than 3 months. Its much less common than acute back pain. Most chronic back pain can be treated without surgery.

Read Also: What Can Cause Pain In Lower Back And Buttocks


Most Popular