Obesity! The Mother of Back Pain! Common Causes and Treatment

Obesity is a condition when a person has excess body weight or fat that may affect his health. Obesity is determined in terms of body mass index (BMI). BMI is a tool used to determine whether a person has a normal body weight in terms of gender, sex and height. It is obtained by dividing the weight in kg to the square of height in meters. A BMI of 16.5 to 24.9 is normal while between 25 and 29.9 indicates overweight. A BMI of 30 or more than it indicates that the person is obese. Obesity may also be determined in terms of other factors such as waist to height ratio, waist to hip size and the amount of fat distribution on the body. In medical terms, obesity can also be defined as having excess adipose tissue.

Obesity causes back pain.

Health Risks of Being Overweight

Obesity has risks for many diseases some of which are described in following:

  1. Diabetes mellitus. Obesity has the risk for type 2 DM because excessive fat cells produce insulin resistance.
  2. Some types of cancers, i.e. breast, pancreas, colon, rectum, endometrium and oesophagus.
  3. The excessive body weight exerts extra pressure and strain on the joints causing degeneration of the cartilages.
  4. Sleep apnea. Due to extra pressure on the abdomen and diaphragm, prolonged shallow breathing occurs in sleep sometimes causing sleep apnea.
  5. A severe Due to extra weight, the strain is put to the joints of the spine and pelvis is pushed forward causing back pain.

Obesity Invites Back Problems

People who have a body weight greater than normal BMI, are at a greater risk of having backache or spine pain. This is because, the excess body weight put a strain on the muscles, joints and ligaments of the spine thus the potential of injury increases. Due to obesity, a variety of disorders may occur in the back which causes severe pain. Some of which are following:

Herniated Disc

Herniated disc means protrusion of the inner jelly-like material of the intervertebral disc from the outer ring-like structure. Excess body weight puts stress to the disc which is ruptured and protrudes and causes a severe backache.

Bulging Of Disc

If the intervertebral disc pushes out of its normal position and invades the space of spinal nerves, it is called bulging of disc. It is also common in obese persons due to extra strain on the discs. It is a painful condition.

Compression Fracture

If any vertebrae or bone of the spine is broken due to stress, it is called compression fracture. This sort of fractures is more common in lower thoracic spine or upper lumbar spine. This is because extra weight exerts more pressure in this region.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc changes are the wear and tear changes that occur in the disc with advancing age. This natural process is enhanced due to obesity because extra weight increases the ageing process.

Arthritis of Back

Arthritis is a disease process of joints that can occur in any of the joints of the body. Osteoarthritis of the spine is the degeneration of the cartilage in the joints of the spine in the neck and lower back region. Arthritis occurs with obesity because the blood supply and oxygen supply to the joints of the spine is compromised in obesity.


It is a condition in which the vertebral column (spine) has abnormal excessive curvature in the lower back region. A large belly pulls the pelvis in the forward direction. Thus a large curve is produced in the spine. This causes pain in the back muscles.


Obesity also causes sciatica which is a type of severe pain due to compression of the sciatic nerve between the discs. The pain occurs in the lower back which radiates towards the buttocks and one or both legs.

Piriform Syndrome

This syndrome occurs when excess weight is exerted into the spaces between the bones in the lumbar area.

Posture Problem

Obese persons are unable to maintain a healthy posture while lifting a weight, watching TV, driving a car or other daily activities because of a large belly. The abnormal posture itself is a cause of severe neck and lower back pain.

Workout is Important

Due to the lack of exercise, the weight of the body starts increasing. Overweight itself a cause of back pain but lack of exercises also causes the laxation of the muscles, ligaments and joints of all the body including spine and thus muscle pain or joint pain starts. Due to excessive laxation of ligaments, discs may be displaced. Also, the curve of the lower spine increases and the pelvis is pulled forward. This causes severe pain in the lower back.

When to See a Doctor?

If you are an obese person and the back pain you are suffering is severe, debilitating and persistent, or you feel radiating pain in one or both legs, you must visit your doctor immediately. You must visit a specialist doctor depending upon the severity of the condition. Back pain is the symptom of many severe problems that only a specialist doctor can diagnose.


Explore Options to Treat Your Back Pain?

Let’s take a look at few options below to treat your back pain:

Posture Braces

Special types of braces have been designed to stabilise the abdomen and back region. Posture correcting braces support your large belly, helping in maintaining good posture and keep the spine in the normal position. Maintaining good posture also helps in weight loss.


These are NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), e.g. ibuprofen which is used to reduce pain in the back because they interfere with the production of inflammation-producing substances in the body.


Certain injections, e.g. Diclofenac sodium are also used to relieve a backache.


If medical treatment is not effective in the treatment of back pain, surgical intervention is carried out and cause of pain is removed surgically, e.g. if there is any stenosis etc. Is present.

Non-Invasive, Non-Medical Treatment

If you want to avoid the side effects of drugs or painkillers and you do not want to have surgery to relieve your back pain, we suggest you to use Backrack™ spinal decompression device. Please click here to read more about Backrack™.