Increased Body Fat is Associated with More Back Pain & Disability

Reference:Urquhart DM, et al Increased fat mass is associated with high levels of low back pain intensity and disability. Spine. 2011; 36(16):1320-1325.

Believe it or not, no good study to date has looked at the role of obesity and body composition in low back pain and disability, until this recent paper. Body composition was assessed using dual radiograph absorptiometry in 135 individuals with low back pain.

Conclusion #1: BMI was associated with higher levels of back pain intensity and disability.

Conclusion #2: Greater fat, but not lean tissue mass (i.e. muscle), was associated with higher levels of low back pain intensity and disability.

Clinical Relevance: These results may not come as a shock to us, but this study still cannot answer the question ? ?why??

It could be the greater load on the spine, inactive lifestyle, or the poor nutritional intake. I must admit, I find it pretty tough to discuss weight loss with my patients, but I have no problems with discussing gaining muscle mass by gentle but consistent weight training.

In a nutshell, tell your patients not to focus so much on losing weight, but to focus on gaining muscle ?studies support this!

Posted on: October 06, 2011

Categories: Lumbar Spine , Relevant Physical Therapy Articles

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