If you are like many people, you have probably suffered from back pain at some point in your life. While over the counter medications may help to relieve some of occasional pains may come from overdoing every day activities. Chronic pain relief often requires much more than that. In addition to following your doctor's orders, something as simple as losing a little weight may provide you with much needed relief.

How Does A Little Extra Weight Affect My Back?

If you are over your ideal weight by more than a few pounds, you may find that your mid-section has slightly thickened up. What you may not realize is how much this thickening is contributing to your back pain. Excessive weight, or obesity can cause musculoskeletal and joint related pain in your back.

This extra weight, especially when it is located around your waist, can shift the center of gravity of your body forward. This shift then causes a pull or strain on your back muscles. If this strain continues over a period of time, it can cause several different problems. A few of these are as follows:

  • Your spine can develop an unnatural curvature and lose its ability to provide your body with the proper support. This can lead to degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.
  • Your spinal discs, muscles, and ligaments can become damaged, which can lead to herniated disc, pinched nerves, and bulging disc.
  • You are at risk of developing Sciatica. This is a condition that often originates in your lower back, but manifests as burning, tingling, or weakness in your buttocks and down the back of your leg. This occurs as the pain travels down your sciatic nerve.
  • You may experience Piriformis Syndrome. This occurs when the piriformis muscles that are located in your lower spine and runs down to the top of your thighbone begins to spasm. This will lead to buttock pain, and can also lead to sciatica. 
  • Being overweight may place you at a higher risk of incurring complications and infections if you have to have any type of back surgery. 

How Much Weight Is Too Much Weight?

Most medical practitioners will tell you that you are overweight if your body mass index (BMI) falls above 24.9 and you are obese if your BMI is above 29.9. When looking at your weight as complicating factor for your back pain, it is also important to consider your waist measurement.

Those who are apple shaped, or those who gain the majority of their weight in their abdominal area are at a higher risk of developing back pain than those who are pear shaped, or those who carry the weight in their hips and thighs. Waist sizes that cause the most concern are those that are greater than 40 inches on men and more than 35 inches on women.

To get a proper waist measurement all you need is a soft tape measure. Start the tape measure at your belly button and measure all the way around pulling the tape snug.

What Can You Do?

If you have not been physically active in the past, speak to your physician about the best type of physical activity for you to engage in. They will be able to assess your complete health picture and help you to make the best choices.

A great low impact activities that you may want to discuss with your physician is some type of low impact water aerobics or water therapy. This a great for people with any type of joint pain, as the water will help to support your weight and counteract the pressure on your joints caused by gravity. This allows you to perform a greater range of activities than you would be able to in a land based program.

Reducing the amount of back pain you are experiencing is a team effort. Although your doctors will do their part, you have to be willing to do your part as well. Losing a few pounds may be part of the solution.