You don’t need to be a medical professional to know that suffering from obesity can be detrimental to your long-term health. In addition to greatly increasing the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases and illnesses, carrying excess body fat also puts great strain on the back, especially the lower (lumbar) back.
If you think about it, the lumbar spine in the lower back is an impressive structure: It allows us to rotate around an axis, lean forward and backward, twist side to side, and it also supports most of the body’s weight. So, it’s really no wonder that lower back problems are so common in healthy individuals, but when you add the extra burden of supporting an obese individual, back pain and a stenosis diagnosis becomes a foregone conclusion.
What is Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis refers to a condition where tissue inflammation, overgrowth, or displacement causes the narrowing of one or more of the canals that normally protect a nerve in the spinal column. As the canals grow smaller over time, the nerve can gradually become compressed (or “pinched”) by the inflammation, which leads to back or neck pain. And one of the leading causes of tissue inflammation in the back is obesity.
A stenosis diagnosis can explain a variety of symptoms of nerve compression, including:
- Pain that radiates or “travels” along a nerve
- Unexpected muscle weakness
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in the fingers or toes
- The condition commonly referred to as sciatica
- An ominous feeling of heat or pins and needles
- Incontinence or loss of bladder control in extreme, emergency cases
If you are one of the millions of people worldwide who are suffering from obesity, you know how difficult it can be to control your weight. However, the stakes are too high to sit idly by and live with back pain from obesity. Instead, contact your family doctor to find out what steps you can take to lose those pesky pounds, live healthier, and avoid a stenosis diagnosis.