Low back pain (LBP) is a very common health problem that leads to disability, sick leave and debilitating pain for millions of people. As the population of America becomes more and more obese and the incidence of back pain increases, it should make sense that back pain and obesity are interrelated. The spine is designed to carry the weight of our body. As we become heavier, there is more stress on the spine, especially the lower spine, or lumbar spine. This is coupled with the fact that metabolic syndrome associated with obesity leads to greater inflammation in the body and spine. On top of an increased rate of low back pain, rehabilitation in obese patients with LBP is more likely to fail due to the increased stress from obesity on the spine.
What can we do as obese people to lessen our level of LBP? An article recently showed that people who are morbidly obese have a four fold increase in back pain, but by adding just 20 minutes a day of light exercise, the risk of LBP can be decreased by an astonishing 32%. Why would exercise be important? Exercise leads to increased flexibility and stronger muscles in the back and pelvis. This in turn leads to improved posture and less stress on the lower back.
One article stated bariatric surgery has been strongly linked to improved quality of life, less pain and even a better looking lumbar MRI. This study proves that significant weight loss can make a dramatic improvement in someone’s life. It goes on to state that bariatric surgery in the morbidly obese with low pain would be a logical first step in trying to relieve that pain. If you struggle with LBP and are morbidly obese, your first step should be to try to diet and exercise. If this fails, you should consider weight loss surgery as an option prior to going forward with spinal surgery.
When considering your options for bariatric surgery, first and foremost, you need to evaluate the program and surgeon. If your team has not performed thousands of cases, you should look elsewhere. Experience is the number one factor for successful results. As the experience of the surgeon increases, the complication rates decrease. At New You Sleeve, we are the most experienced team in the country. Our complication rate is the lowest in the country and our understanding of obesity and our compassion for patients is second to none.