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Our daily routines and lifestyles affect what symptoms and conditions we may develop over our lifetime. Ok, no surprise there. Right? But it is much easier to write off bad genetics or bad luck for our conditions, so this is what we do instead. We have more control over our health than we let ourselves think. It is up to us to do what we can to stay healthy and to keep ourselves symptom free. If you take a step back and look at the array of health problems common in the United States, they are mostly problems of the first world. Many first world health issues are preventable. These preventable conditions are not issues that start overnight. Maybe the symptoms started overnight, but it is likely that the they had been building over some time before they reached a critical level and your brain chose to recognize that the problem is present.

Low back pain is not much different than many other conditions in this sense. Often times, when a patient presents to a medical doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist with low back pain, the problem did not truly start at the same time of the onset of symptoms. This is especially true if you can't recall the exact movement that caused the symptoms or if you are unsure of the causes of your symptoms. Various factors play into affect when determining if you have acute low back pain or a more chronic condition that has been waiting to get you. Lifestyle is a major contributing factor in low back pain. Of course, proper sitting positions, posture and other variables should be address when managing low back pain. But an elephant in the room with a doctor and patient can often be the patient's weight. A study published in 2018 found that there is an association between being overweight and increased risk for low back pain(1). Some doctors are too shy to address this and others may address it, but not in a tactful way. In case “B” the patient takes the doctor's word on their treatment plan, but weight never gets addressed. The patient goes on living in ignorant bliss...or ignorant pain. This is the doctor's fault in not addressing and educating the patient. In case “A”, it gets addressed, but in a way that frustrates the patient and pushes them away from doing anything that could potentially help with weight issues and thus low back pain or other obesity related conditions. A third option should be considered. In this situation, the doctor addresses that weight may be an issue and offers multiple options for weight loss. This needs to be done without pushing the patient to hard. Inspiration can be a very useful tool, but can turn into a uncomfortable “sales pitch” like situation, if not handled properly. When done properly, this is not “body shaming”, as people like to argue in present times. This is simply correlating one health issue to another issue. Yes...being overweight is a health issue, forget about the aesthetics for a second.

It is important that when seeking out treatment for low back pain, you find a practitioner that will take all important factors into account, including your weight. Being able to do this in a respectful manner is something that I try to incorporate into my practice with every patient. Sure most people view low back pain as a benign, self limiting condition. But tell that to a person with severe low back pain that can't pursue their hobbies, work to support their family or can even have trouble doing basic daily activities due to pain. They may not think their back pain is such a minor issue. Please get your low back looked at before it becomes a more significant issue.


(1) The Association Among Overweight, Obesity, and Low Back Pain in U.S. Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study of the 2015 National Health Interview Survey Peng, Trent et al. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 41 , Issue 4 , 294 - 303

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