As a Clearwater personal injury attorney, my blog is meant as an educational tool to my clients. I recently came across an interesting but disturbing article concerning the link between obesity and correlation to the susceptibility to a damaged spine as a result. Insurance carrier often rely upon obesity as an excuse as to why my clients have suffered tremendous low back pathology as a result of an automobile accident. In fact, physicians retained by insurance carriers (typically for the purpose of an independent or compulsory medical examination) often assert that my client had pre-existing lower back pathology as a result of being obese.
The United States is the most obese country in the world with over 34% of the adult population classified as overweight. Most people know that obesity contributes to the development of coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer. However, did you know that obesity is a contributing factor to back pain? Being overweight or obese can significantly contribute to symptoms associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis.
In a recent study, 2,600 volunteers aged 21 to 63 were recruited and had their weight and height measured to calculate their body mass index (BMI). The test subjects underwent MRI scans of their spine. The study shows that the average BMI for people without disc damage was in the normal range, and the average BMI of people with disc damage was in the overweight range. The study also showed that when looking at the extent of damages to discs, they found that damages tended to increase in line with people’s BMI, so that higher BMI tended to go hand in hand with worse damage. Being classified as obese repeatedly gives you a 70% increase in your chance of having severe disc damage, compared with people with a normal BMI.
How Obesity Makes You More Susceptible to Lower Back Pain
The spine is designed to carry the body’s weight and distribute the loads encountered during rest and activity. When excess weight is carried, the spine is forced to absorb the burden, which may lead to injuries. One region of the spine that is most defenseless to the effects of obesity is the low back; the lumbar spine. It is common for people to assume back pain is linked with the process of aging, and it is true that with age body tissue can cause change to the spinal structure. However, if you are overweight or obese, chances are you have, or will have, back pain.
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If you want to protect your spine from harm, it’s a good idea to keep your weight in a healthy range. Physical activity is extremely important and the most often prescribed treatment for spine health since back joints and discs rely on motion to keep them healthy. Lack of exercise and bodily conditioning leads to poor flexibility and weak muscles in the back, pelvis, and thighs. This can increase the curve of the lower back, causing the pelvis to tilt too far toward.
If you are experiencing lower back pain it might be hard to get motivated and start an exercise program to lose the weight needed to help maintain a healthy back and relieve your pain. Talk to your doctor to help develop the right exercise program for you. Your back will be reaping the benefits of physical activity while also improving your overall health.
Keep in mind that if you are the victim of an automobile accident or motorcycle accident, the insurance carrier for the adverse party will pry through your medical records to inquire as to whether or not your obese. Insurance carriers look for any excuse not to pay and if they can at least create a doubt as to whether the auto accident did in fact cause the injury complained of, they are in a much stronger position.
Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is a Florida Personal Injury Attorney and civil trial lawyer who limits his practice to first and third party claims relating to an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, TBI, insurance carrier bad faith, catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Matthew also specializes in greater Tampa Bay area drunk driving victim claims.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is a personal injury and civil trial law firm based in Clearwater, Florida. Located in central Pinellas County (ten minutes from St. Petersburg and fifteen minutes from Tampa), the attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA represent only consumers and never will or have ever represented an insurance carrier. We routinely litigate personal injury claims throughout the State of Florida and actively represent plaintiffs in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk County. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA serves the following cities; Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Ozona, Tarpon Springs, Tampa, Carrolwood, New Tampa, Oldsmar, Trinity, New Port Richey, Bradenton and Sarasota.