What Role Does Weight Play in Back Pain?

By Keith Abruzzese, Director, Virtua Rehab Services

You’ve probably heard that maintaining a healthy weight is important for everything from keeping your heart healthy, to preventing type 2 diabetes, to improving your mental health. It can also prevent back pain or improve back pain you’re currently experiencing.

The lower back is particularly vulnerable to pain caused by extra weight. When that weight is located around your midsection – often referred to as your “spare tire” – the pelvis is pulled forward, and over time your spine can develop an unnatural curvature. Of course, the extra weight puts additional strain on your back muscles and ligaments. Excess body fat also produces chemicals that contribute to joint inflammation.

The extra weight can lead to back pain in a variety of ways through:

  • Increased risk of degenerative disk disease. The risk increases greatly if your weight moves into an unhealthy range.
  • Herniated (also called bulging, ruptured, or slipped) disks. As a disk compresses to compensate for the extra weight, it can cause muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and sciatica.
  • Development and worsening of osteoarthritis.
  • Increased likelihood of injury.

Losing weight through regular exercise and healthy eating can help relieve the stress on your joints and your lower back pain. A physical therapist can recommend specific stretches and exercises, and make sure you are doing them correctly.

Get started with relieving your back pain! To learn about your options for getting relief, call 856-246-4272 and request a consultation with one of our back pain specialists. You can also download the Virtua Health Guide to Back Pain.

Updated January 14, 2022

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