Suffering from back or joint pain? Weight loss surgery can help

weight loss surgery back pain

One of the many benefits of weight loss surgery is the alleviation of back pain. Studies show that people who are overweight are at greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain than those who are not overweight.

If you are considering bariatric surgery and you suffer from serious back pain, here’s what you need to know.

How Obesity Causes Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain, which includes back pain, occurs in the nearly one-third of Americans who are classified as obese. Simply put, the more you weigh, the more pressure you exert on your spine and joints.

The added pressure of each additional pound can cause cartilage to wear away, leading to bone-on-bone friction. Pressure can also flatten the cushioning disks between vertebral bones, causing back pain.

Additionally, extra weight can place stress on the spine and cause it to warp. Over time, the back may lose proper support and an unnatural curvature in the spine may emerge.

Obesity is also a culprit of lower back pain. For people who carry excess weight in their stomachs, the weight pulls the pelvis forward and puts a harmful strain on the lower back in addition to the rest of the body.

Conditions Related To Obesity

There are a range of conditions that obesity can cause and/or exacerbate.

As mentioned above, too much weight can place a lot of strain on the back, which can result in a herniated disc. A herniated disk occurs when spinal structures are damaged from the stress of having to counterbalance extra weight.

This stress also puts pressure on nerves in the spine. This can lead to pinched nerves, sciatica, tingling or numbness in the buttocks and legs and piriformis syndrome.

Obesity can also be a key contributing factor in osteoarthritis. Patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than those with lower BMIs.

How Obesity Complicates Back Surgery

Unfortunately, reducing back pain is not a simple matter of surgery for obese patients. Many joint and spine surgeons are often unwilling to perform surgery on overweight patients for fear that the obesity will only cause the new joint or spine repair to wear down and require additional surgery.

Moreover, obese patients face a greater risk of complications and infections after the surgery.

Weight Loss Reduces Back And Joint Pain

Just as more weight equals more pressure on the back and joints, a reduction in body mass reduces the stress on the joints and spine. In addition to the many other benefits of weight loss, it can also remove the stress that degrades the musculoskeletal structure.

Additionally, weight loss can reduce the risk of critical joint replacement or spine surgery, enabling patients to receive procedures which can further reduce joint or back pain.

Sticking to a healthy weight loss program can help you avoid or reduce the problems that excess weight can cause for your joints and back. For certain patients, weight loss surgery can reduce overall body mass and keep their muscles and bones in healthy shape.

If you’re experiencing back or joint pain related to obesity, give Dr. Dirk a call at (214) 974-8937. He and his staff can help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you.


Patient Testimonial: Vicki Steidley

gastric sleeve surgery

When full-time RN Vicki Steidley began exploring weight loss surgery options to treat her constant back pain, she was told that back surgery would be impossible due to her obesity. But she was determined to stop her pain, and her neurosurgeon told her that losing weight would allow her to have back surgery or even reduce her need for surgery altogether.

Now, after a receiving a gastric sleeve at the tender age of 64 and losing 78 pounds, Vicki is more energetic, happier and healthier than ever. We spoke to Vicki about her weight loss journey and her experience with Dr. Dirk.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues and were they resolved by the surgery?

I had no quality of life prior to my gastric sleeve surgery and was unable to do the things I enjoyed, like going to flea markets, digging in the dirt and fishing. I became short of breath easily and had back pain 24/7.

What motivated you to get weight loss surgery?

My neurosurgeon suggested weight loss surgery and said that I may not need back surgery if I lost weight. I have battled my weight all my life and never won the battle. As a nurse, I knew I was a high risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Now, I can do all the things I enjoy without back pain. I have never had this much energy or felt this good.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

Dr. Dirk and his staff were so helpful and supportive. He was available to me 24 hours a day. He thoroughly explained everything and really cared about me. I understood that the diet and exercise program was a lifelong commitment, but knew if I wanted any kind of life, this is what I needed to do.

How has your life changed since? 

Everything I had tried in the past just didn’t work. I have the most wonderful life now, and my co-workers are always talking about how good I look. I always have a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

I do stick to the diet, which hasn’t been difficult as I no longer feel hungry. I no longer crave the bad foods I ate in the past, and I always make sure to take in the appropriate amount of protein daily. I go to the gym 5 days a week and I enjoy the way I feel after my workout; challenge myself each time I go. I know the diet and exercise are what make me feel so wonderful and full of energy.

Do you have new outlook on life? 

I have a whole new outlook on life. I wake up every day feeling good and full of energy. My weight loss immediately after surgery was slow, but once the weight started dropping and I started making progress in the gym, I knew I had made the right decision. 

What has been the response from friends and family?

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while yesterday, and he didn’t even recognize me at first. I am constantly telling people how I lost the weight and I recommend Dr. Dirk highly. One of my co-workers went to him for surgery and is also losing weight. My son is also planning on having the surgery after hearing all I have said about Dr. Dirk and his support.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight?

My favorite thing to do now is to challenge myself to do more. I am planning on running a 5K next spring. I can’t say enough that it is never too late to make changes that will improve your outlook on life.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.