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(Source: Bariatric Times)
Question – Are there any tips to overcome lower back pain after bariatric surgery?
I am 6 months into my gastric sleeve surgery in Mexico. My lower back is continuously killing me. My symptoms include weakness in my legs, constant pain and it worsens when I move.
Causes of Back Pain After Weight Loss Surgery
- Morbidly obese people often suffer from back pain, along with some other health problems like diabetes and sleep apnea. Such conditions can be life-threatening. Weight loss procedures like the gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy), gastric bypass, and the gastric band help a person lose weight, thereby improving quality of life.
- As the obese patients lose their excess weight, their center of gravity shifts, thereby causing pain in the back.
- As excess fat prior to surgery is centered in the abdominal area, this renders the abdomen walls as weaker.
- To compensate and to maintain spine stability, the back muscles have to overwork (which makes them stronger).1
- While weight loss post-surgery helps take the load off the back muscles, they continue to remain quite tensed.
- Another contributing factor could be increased levels of physical activity to which your back muscles take some time to adjust back.
How to Overcome Back Pain After Bariatric Surgery?
- Working on those core muscles is essential. For the first few weeks after surgery, you can start exercising, gradually increasing your activity level.
- Something people lose a lot after weight loss surgery (including the extra fat/adipose tissue) is muscle.
- The extra weight you carry helps build lean muscle underneath it, and when we start to lose that weight, you lose a lot of that muscle too.
- This is a big reason why it is so important to exercise and specifically do resistance focused exercises.
- Aerobic exercise tends to increase the blood flow and nutrients to the soft tissues in the back. This improves the healing process and reduces stiffness that might be the cause of your back pain.2
- Work with a trainer to help build those core muscles again.
- Skaf G, Elias E et al. “Worsening Back Pain after Bariatric Surgery: The Impact of Acute Weight Loss on the Spine” Remedy Open Access 2017 http://www.remedyoa.com/pdfs_folder/roa-v2-id1046.pdf
- Rebecca Gordon and Saul Bloxham. “A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Lower Back Pain” Healthcare (Basel). 2016 Jun; 4(2): 22
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