There’s more to weight loss than fitting into your favorite jeans — it just may be your ticket out of chronic pain. So, how?

Research shows obesity not only increases your risk of lumbar disc herniation and pain in the lower back, it inhibits the effectiveness of back pain treatment. Like a smoker who continues to blow through a pack a day even as she receives cancer treatment, overweight people who fail to shed pounds cannot expect to get the full benefits of spinal treatments. When the spine is loaded with additional weight, the space between the spinal discs decreases, compressing or irritating surrounding nerves.  

A 2008 study from the journal Spine sought to see just how much slimming down could impact treatment outcomes for back pain. A team of orthopedists studied 30 morbidly obese people who had just undergone a major weight loss procedure (bariatic surgery). Researchers then  tracked the progress of pain as patients shed  pounds. As BMI levels dropped, the space between the discs in the lumbar spine expanded. This freed up pressure on pinched nerves, and over time, reduced pain.

Fortunately you don’t have to resort to weight loss surgery to experience similar results.  Exercise, diet and chiropractic care can often do the trick for many patients, according to recent research. So if you’re looking to rid yourself of pain while squeezing into those skinny jeans, give a chiropractor a call.


 Djurasovic M, Bratcher KR, Glassman S, et a. The Effect of Obesity on Clinical Outcomes After Lumbar Fusion. Spine 2008; 33(16): 1789-1792.


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