Friday, March 20, 2009

Take the weight off your back

More about the relationship between weight and posture ...

"The next time you complain about a bad back, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. The extra fat around your stomach could be the culprit.

According to doctors TODAY spoke to, being obese puts you at a greater risk of chronic backaches.

“While it is not known exactly how excess weight can contribute to back pain, it is known that obese people are often at greater risk for back and joint pain, and muscle strain,” said Dr David Wong, a specialist in orthopaedic surgery at Raffles Hospital.

Dr Patrick Goh, consultant sports physician at SportsMed Central in Gleneagles Hospital, explained that this is probably because an obese person generally carries more weight around the trunk, which tends to put more stress on the spine.

Excessive weight around the abdomen also leads to a heavier load, and therefore more wear and tear on the lumbar (lower back) disc and joints. This increases the stress on the spinal muscles, said Dr Goh.

According to Dr Wong, a pulled muscle or sprained ligament in the back is one of the most common causes of acute back pain.

Those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25 (you are considered overweight if your BMI is between 25 to 29.9) are also at a greater risk of developing facet joint osteoarthritis, a condition that causes lower back pain and stiffness, Dr Wong added.

It can affect your quality of life

While back pain isn’t life-threatening - unlike other diseases that often plague obese people (coronary heart disease, diabetes) - patients are often surprised at how debilitating a backache can be.

“I have been having pain in my back on and off for the last two months after I strained a muscle. At its worst, I couldn’t even wear my pants properly,” said Edward Tan, a 49-year-old businessman.

With a BMI of 26.6, Mr Tan falls into the overweight category. Adults with a BMI of 30 and above are considered obese.

Annoyed and severely inconvenienced by his bad back, Mr Tan ended up seeing two doctors. He was subsequently referred to a physiotherapist and advised by his doctor to “lose some weight”.

“Back pain may affect one’s ability to work as well as play. It may even be severe enough to affect sleep, or lead to irritability or mild depression,” said Dr Goh.

In addition, said Dr Goh, backache sufferers may also be more prone to “lifestyle diseases” such as hypertension and diabetes - brought about by long-term inactivity caused by their backache."    (Continued via, Eveline Gan)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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