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There are many reasons people put on extra weight, all of them valid. Let’s face it: life can be difficult. And food is delicious!

If you are overweight, you’re probably already familiar with the idea that losing weight could benefit your health. You’ve probably been told to lose weight before. You’ve probably heard snide comments from family or friends, some well-meaning, some not. You won’t get any judgments from us.

That having been said, the health benefits of losing weight are clear. From lower blood pressure to higher self-esteem, and yes, a potential reduction in back pain due to lumbar disc herniation and spinal compression, there are many upsides to shedding a pant size or two. 

Let’s explore the connection between weight loss and a reduction in back pain more below.

The Link Between Excess Weight and Back Pain

If you’re carrying around extra weight, it could be contributing to back pain and spine degeneration. According to a study of over 2,500 adults published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers “found that disc degeneration tended to be more common, more severe, and more extensive among overweight or obese participants.”

Top 3 benefits of Weight Loss for Back Pain

According to Healthline, when you lose weight for back pain reduction, the following three things are likely to happen:

  1. You may become less inflamed.
  2. Pressure may be taken off your spine.
  3. Exercising to lose weight may strengthen stomach & back muscles, reducing pain.

Practical Steps for Weight Loss and Back Pain Management

Will losing weight help with back pain? Absolutely. As we’ve established, there’s a proven link between reduced back pain and weight loss.

Will losing weight be easy? That’s an entirely different question. And, though the answer depends on your mindset, losing weight requires consistency, and often, discomfort.

Many adults don’t like exercise. Perhaps fewer enjoy the challenge of eating healthier.

In short, making lifestyle changes can be more than a little challenging. Thankfully, with the right resources, it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Here is a list of action items to help you stay on track of your weight loss journey, courtesy of the CDC:

  1. Commit: Find your “why”. Write it down to refer to later. It could be back pain alone. It could be not wanting to become incapacitated and dependent on others later in life. It could be that you want to look and feel better in a swimsuit. Keep asking yourself “Why do I want to do this” until you arrive at a final, overarching answer that will motivate you to keep at it during times when you want to say “screw it all” (or something worse!)
  2. Take stock of where you are: Conduct an honest self-assessment of your current habits by logging your food and other health-related habits. The first few days can be just about observing. But continue to log all your meals. Over time, doing so will help you realize what kind of choices you’re making and make better ones.
  3. Set realistic goals: Don’t try to go from couch potato to Olympic power-lifter overnight. Instead, set yourself up for success rather than failure with, realistic, sustainable, achievable goals. The slower your weight loss, the more likely you are to keep it off. You should aim for a reduction of about 1-3 lbs a week.
  4. Seek out resources & support: Want to really hold yourself accountable? Seek out informational resources on how to lose weight healthily. Keep researching & learning. But also, seek out accountability partners who will keep you on the “straight and narrow” while also celebrating your wins with you.
  5. Monitor your progress continually: Try to weigh yourself every day or every week. Not only will doing so keep you honest, but it will also feel empowering when you start seeing the scale go down and you see the real-time results of your hard work & effort!

Learn More

Ready to begin your journey to a healthier you? Check out our blog post “What Are the Best Foods for Spine Health?”. 

Wondering if you might need back surgery even after weight loss? Read “9 Alternatives to Back Surgery” or contact us at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center. We can help you talk through your options to reduce back pain and get back to the kind of quality of life you deserve!