Back pains are common, especially in people over 40 years of age. Interestingly, most of the time, the cause of these back pains is the front, not the back itself. The abdominal muscles that line the front of the spine can cause mild to severe back pain depending on how much weight our bellies pack.
There is scientific evidence that belly fat contributes to back pain by misaligning the spine, distorting the correct posture, damaging muscles, and releasing harmful chemicals. All evidence points to excessive belly fat posing serious health risks, including damage to the spine.
This article analyses the relationship between belly fat and back pains. I will examine how belly fat physically and chemically affects the spine and pelvic muscles triggering lower back pains.
How Belly Fat Can Cause Back Pain
It is not uncommon to find people with otherwise healthy spines experiencing back pains. To a person with no known history of back problems, this is usually a cause of concern. There is mounting evidence that excessive to average belly fat is the main trigger of that morning back pain, usually accompanied by numbness extending to the feet in people with big bellies.
Increasing research is being published that abdominal obesity is the main cause of spinal damage and an inflammation-making factory attacking the spinal nerves. People do not like to hear that the back and joint pains they experience are made worse by abdominal obesity.
A good number of spinal patients talk of being advised for ages to shed belly fat, but they did not consider it. The next section draws scientific links between spinal cord problems and obesity.
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Belly Fat and Lower Spine Configuration Distortions
Scientific evidence shows that belly fat distorts the natural inward curvature of the lumbar or lower spine. This distortion stresses the spine and the lower back muscles, and this can cause pain. In people with normal weight, the lower and upper spines curve inwards, while the middle spine curve outwards.
This S shape ensures that the body weight is evenly distributed. Obesity exaggerates this S shape, creating excessive inward curvature in the lower back. This rolls the pelvis excessively forward and triggers many problems that can cause lower back pain.
This exaggerated S curvature stretches the flexible muscles that support the spine and ensure the right posture. Too much pressure on these muscles can itself cause back pain. Also, the exaggerated S curvature that comes with excessive belly fat stresses ligaments and spinal discs. The distorted posture characterized by backward-leaning shoulders and a bulging belly describes this posture. This, again, can cause back pain, but the pain will get worse with increases in belly fat.
These spinal discs and ligaments act as shock absorbers for the spine. Excessive weight compresses disc space, leading to herniation and annular tears. Eventually, the discs and ligaments give in, resulting in a sprained or strained spine. You expect lower back pain when the lower part of the abdomen is sprained.
Researchers at the medical university of Graz in Austria conducted lengthy research over 35 years to establish the correlation between lower back pain, abdominal pain, and overall health. One of the interesting findings of this study was that obese and overweight people reported an earlier loss of mobility due to spinal cord distortion, annular disc tears, and hernia in their lower backs. The researchers established that the lower back was most prone to harm due to excessive weight, for it carries most of the body weight.
Belly Fat and Bone Quality
Excessive belly fat also harms the bones, and this is not physical damage but chemical damage. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common types of arthritis that affect the spine. A recent article published by Johns Hopkins medicine shows that both types of arthritis are common in the lower back and neck. The article attributes these types of arthritis to visceral fat, which is fat hidden deep inside the abdomen.
As opposed to subcutaneous or pinchable fat, subcutaneous fat interferes with the ability of spinal bones to renew themselves. This can result in degeneration or severe inflammation that can cause lower back pains. Research has linked belly fat to Spinal Epidural Lipomatosis (SEL), an overgrowth of fat in the spinal canal. SEL is characterized by severe lower back pain and other spine complications.
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Belly Fat and Toxic Chemicals
Research shows that belly fat releases harmful chemicals that can result in painful inflammation. Over time these chemicals wear down the components of the skeleton, including the discs of the lower back. Specifically, belly fat releases adipokines which are known to trigger inflammation. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory spine condition that causes vertebrae to fuse together.
Research also shows that belly fat releases more fatty acids into the bloodstream. These fatty acids are risk factors for degenerative skeletal diseases and other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and circulatory diseases. Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) was established in recent research to be more common in men than women. This research noted that DDD was more common in men since they tend to store fats in their midsections as opposed to women, who mainly store fats in their thighs and hips.
Belly fat can cause lower back pain in many ways. This fat distorts posture, puts extra pressure on the spine, and releases toxic chemicals that are risk factors for degenerative and inflammatory spinal disorders. This article has provided concrete scientific evidence that shows how obesity can trigger lower back pain. In light of this evidence, it is time to consider shedding that excess belly fat.
- Spine Universe: Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and More
- Spine Universe: 8 Surprising Ways Belly Fat Can Cause Back Pain
- Caring Medical Florida: Weight Loss Can Reduce Back Pain
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Spinal Arthritis (Arthritis in the Back or Neck)
- Orthopedic Reviews: Spinal Epidural Lipomatosis: A Comprehensive Review
- Shine365: True or False: Bloated Belly Equals Aching Back