If you’re overweight, you are in the majority in America. According to the National Institutes of Health, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Black, white, young, old, even rich and poor —the numbers may change slightly, but you’ll find a large overweight percentage in every group. It’s considered an epidemic in some circles.
But for the spinal doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute, weight gain means one thing: back pain. Added weight can and does cause back pain in patients. The excess weight — especially in your belly — strains your back muscles and ligaments, causing back pain. One of the first solutions to back pain that doctors advise is to lose weight.
Spine Problems from Weight Gain
With proper posture, you stand upright with your chest out and your chin up. You stomach is tucked in and the sight curve of your lower back keeps your hips straight. If you’re carrying extra weight, however, every part of your body gets heavier. And your spine bears the burden of that weight, literally.
When you’ve experienced weight gain, your upper spine can’t straighten out properly. Over time, you may develop an unnatural curvature, so that your neck is always bent forward and your head leans over your chest instead of upright between your shoulders. Because it happens incrementally, you may not even notice until your spinal doctor shows you your X-rays.
Another problem that can lead to back pain occurs in your lower back. Weight gain in your abdomen forces your pelvis to slant forward. It’s under a tremendous strain, trying to carry your weight. Because your pelvis is pulled to the front, your lower back curves forward too. The graceful arch in a normal lower back becomes more rounded, which puts more pressure on the nerves, leading to back pain.
Back Pain Results
A normal back arches up from your pelvis and back, surrounding your vital organs, before curving inward again to your neck and extending up to your head, right between your shoulders. It’s balanced and structured to provide many years of pain-free support.
Once your back is pulled out of normal alignment because of weight gain, your muscles, ligaments and bones have to work even harder to carry the weight. They aren’t in the position they were designed to be. It’s like bending the fingers of a baseball glove back. You can still get your hand in the glove, and you can still catch with it, but it isn’t working the way it was designed.
As a result, nerves exiting your spinal column will become constricted or a disc will bulge or herniate, and you will experience back pain. It won’t happen all at once, but if you are overweight, it will happen eventually. It’s just a matter of time.
Dealing with Weight Gain
There are a host of health complications that result from being obese or overweight. Back pain is only one of the side effects. Diabetes is a disease that can kill you. Heart troubles — your heart has to work that much harder when there’s that much more of you — is another threat to your life. Back pain is a symptom of trouble that could lead to even worse complications.
If you’re overweight and now have back pain, get it checked out from spinal physicians like those at the Southeastern Spine Institute. They can show you X-rays and MRIs of your spine. They can prescribe exercise or physical therapy to help you lose weight. Think of weight gain as a health problem and take steps to beat it. Before it beats you.