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Dr. David Kim Kim Bariatric Institute

Effects of Obesity on Back & Joint Pain

If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, and you also experience back or joint pain, know that you are not alone. Over 80% of Americans experience chronic back pain and more than 1 in 3 are also obese.1,2 The weight loss doctors at DFW Bariatric Institute, in conjunction with the chronic pain specialists at DFW Spine Institute, explain the connection between excess weight and back or joint pain, and outline some of the steps you can take if you suffer from chronic pain that may be caused or exacerbated by obesity.

How Excess Weight or Obesity Can Affect the Spine and Joints
A healthy spine is integral to overall health. Among other things, the spine supports and distributes body weight to allow for proper movement and mobility. Excess weight can place a burden on the spine, particularly the lower back. Studies show that carrying any amount of body weight that would cause one to be considered overweight or obese can directly cause lower back pain.3 Additionally, people with obesity who also have weak abdominal muscles may experience curvature of the spine as excess weight in the midsection causes the pelvis to shift forward.

Joints, such as the knees and hips, also play a major role in our ability to move comfortably. Due to gravity and the way that body weight is distributed, the pressure on knee joints can be approximately three times the actual weight. That means that an extra 30 pounds of body weight can put an extra 90 pounds of pressure on your knees, which can lead to pain and accelerated wear and tear of the joints.

Spine and joint conditions that can be linked to obesity include osteoarthritis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis.

Can Weight Loss Alleviate Back or Joint Pain?
If you suffer from frequent back pain or knee pain, many doctors agree that losing weight may help alleviate symptoms. While there are many factors that can contribute to back and joint conditions, there are also many health benefits to weight loss. At DFW Bariatric Institute, we recognize that it can be extremely difficult to achieve weight loss success on your own. We’ve helped thousands of patients lose weight, maintain their weight loss, and live healthier, more active lives. We know that every patient’s challenges are different, and we offer personalized treatment plans to fit your medical history and health goals. Our weight loss solutions include non-surgical treatment options, such as Medical Weight Loss Program, Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG), or gastric balloon, as well as surgical options such as Gastric Sleeve and Gastric Bypass.

Exercise to Treat or Prevent Back Pain
People who suffer from chronic back or knee pain may avoid exercise for fear of making their pain worse. But the right exercise program, under the direction of a medical professional, can actually relieve or prevent some pain! Physical activity is important to strengthen the muscles around the spine and joints, which can help protect them from damage. Keeping in mind that you should always check with your physician before starting an exercise program, here are some types of workouts that may be beneficial for back or joint pain:

  • Walking Studies show that a walking program can help prevent and manage chronic back pain.4
  • Yoga A consistent yoga practice can strengthen muscles and improve posture.
  • Strength Training Weight lifting guided by an experienced trainer can improve core muscles to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain.5
  • Swimming Swimming is a low-impact exercise and can be a great workout for people with joint pain.

Medical Treatment Options for Back or Joint Pain
If you are suffering from chronic back pain, an experienced spine specialist may be able to diagnose and treat your pain in order to recommend options for pain relief. Even if you are currently participating in a weight loss plan that you hope will alleviate some of your pain, you may want to ensure that you understand exactly what is causing your pain and rule out any degenerative conditions, which could worsen without treatment. Patients in the Dallas area can find chronic pain specialists and laser spine surgeons at DFW Spine Institute, specializing in laser. Offering advanced diagnostic tools, non-surgical treatments, and alternative pain management, the doctors at DFW Spine Institute may be able to help you find relief from chronic back or joint pain.

Contact Us
If you are suffering from chronic back or joint pain that may be caused by excess weight, take the first step toward a healthier and more active lifestyle. Contact us at DFW Bariatric Institute to learn about your weight loss options and schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations in Colleyville, Frisco, or Rockwall, Texas.

1 Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71
2 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
3 American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 171, Issue 2, 15 January 2010, Pages 135–154,
4 BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2010; 11: 205. Published online 2010 Sep 13. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-11-205
5 J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Mar; 27(3): 619–622. Published online 2015 Mar 31. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.619

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