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Can Weight Loss Cause Back Pain? (From A Doctor)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 1, 2023

If you recently lost weight and are concerned about your unexplained discomforting back pain, you're in the right place.

After weeks of researching and interviewing fitness coaches and doctors I work with, I gathered enough information on exactly how excess weight loss causes back pain.

In this article, I will share the impact of weight loss on back pain, the causes of back pain, and four things you can do to avoid back pain after weight loss.

Let's get started.

Quick Summary

  • Weight loss might trigger back pain through stress on skeletal muscles, a decrease in bone density, and weaker bones.
  • The main causes of back pain are dehydration, overexercising, loss of muscle tone, and malnutrition.
  • Moving and eating healthy are some ways of treating back pain after weight loss.

3 Ways Weight Loss Impacts Back Pain

A woman holding her upper and lower back

Losing weight can have a major impact on back pain. Here’s why.

1. Stress On Skeletal Muscles

People with excess weight want to slim down and get healthy, but they worry about its side effects, specifically back pain.

When you lose weight, you shed extra fat layers in the body.

When this happens, there is no cushioning layer to keep the body's insides in place, which can result in a lot of movement and shifting that causes pain.

Weight loss alters the curvature in the spinal column and general morphology. In addition, if you have excess weight, intense workout activities put the skeletal muscles under more stress and discomfort [1].

2. Decreased Bone Density

3D presentation of spine

If your extra weight worries you, you might have heard of the concept of calories in vs. calories out.

Weight loss entails reducing the calories you consume while leading a great healthy lifestyle.

When you combine physical exercises with food known for losing weight like bars and shakes, you tend to lose a great amount of weight quickly due to your body's nutrition deficit.

Nutrition deficit causes the body to lose a significant amount of minerals and water, decreasing a person’s bone density.

3. Weaker Bones

Weakened bones can result in spinal instability, hence why so many people have back discomfort after losing weight [2].

Furthermore, when you intensify your regular exercise, you risk developing additional back issues due to overusing and overtraining specific muscles.

You also lose the cushioning function of fat mass in your belly and hips when you lose weight. Reduced cushioning might cause uncomfortable musculoskeletal pain and can also impact your backbone alignment.


4 Causes Of Back Pain After Weight Loss

A woman holding her lower back

Here are four things that could be causing your discomforting back pain after you lost excess weight.

1. Dehydration

Low-carbohydrate diets are thought to be dehydrating. This implies that they will accelerate your dehydration to help you lose weight rapidly. While this may not be terrible, you may quickly get dehydrated if you're not careful.

Since our body systems are around 70% water, this becomes a problem [3]. Water helps to keep the height of the spinal discs as well as their capacity to absorb trauma.

Dehydration reduces the amount of fluid accessible to these spinal discs. As a result, you may experience disc deterioration, bulging, and even rupture in a hurry.

Fluids are also required for the absorption of electrolytes by our muscle tissue. When your muscles become dehydrated, they tense up and become rigid.

If you find that a low-carb meal works for you, keep it up. Ensure you're drinking sufficient water to maintain your body functioning as efficiently as possible!

2. Overexercising

Exhausted man resting on floor

Some specific workout regimens place a greater emphasis on physical exercise rather than dieting. These regimens include high-intensity and frequent exercise that help you burn more calories.

Such exercise contributes to occasionally overextending your exercise; thus, you end up jeopardizing your health.

It would be best to be cautious about the exercises and rest enough so that your body systems can heal before the following routine.

Since your back plays a vital role in your daily activities, it is often the first section of the body to experience pain and distress.

3. Malnutrition

When you lack nutrients in whole grains, fruits, and root vegetables, your body may suffer malnourishment. Malnutrition causes the muscles to spasm and degenerate, frequently becoming stressed.

These muscles then cannot stabilize your spine as efficiently as they may if you consume all the required nutrients [4].

4. Loss Of Muscle Tone

A woman showing her back

Some diet programs are so restrictive that individuals are encouraged to avoid vigorous activity. This is due to the system adjusting to consuming less fuel (food).

Introducing exercise too soon may result in weariness, aggravation, and a slip off the path. This increased sedentary condition might result in quick weight reduction through muscular tone.

The musculature in our back and belly work together to maintain the posture of the spine and torso [5].

When these muscles deteriorate, posture suffers. When our posture worsens, we experience tension and stiffness in our neck, shoulders, and back.

How To Treat Back Pain After Weight Loss

Even though your back is killing you, here are three things you might consider doing to treat and manage the pain.

Maintain a proper posture: Many people with back pains could be sleeping or carrying things the wrong way, especially when working out.

An unhealthy posture will lead to back pain [6]. You may need to maintain a better posture when working out or sleeping.

Eat healthier: Exercise without eating healthy will result in complications like back pains. It would help if you stopped eating unhealthy food like fast foods.

Weight loss achieved by eating healthy foods with more nutrients helps gain muscle tone around our back and belly and maintains the spine alignment.

"If you maintain good eating habits, you not only will maintain a healthy weight, but you also will not put unnecessary stress on your body,"

- Beth W. Orenstein, MD

Get moving: Aside from your fitness routines in the gym, you can also take evening walks on sidewalks and jog around your house or at the park. Such low-intensity exercise can help relieve back and joint pain.

4 Things To Do To Avoid Back Pain After Weight Loss

Seeking a health professional for a check up

If you just lost excess weight and body fats, try doing these four things to avoid back pain after the process.

1. Consult a Doctor

If you were severely overweight and lost all the weight in a short period, there are higher chances of back pains. Your physical therapist will examine you and provide a better way to maintain your weight while avoiding muscle strain on your back.

2. Start Slow

You should exercise slowly without putting too much stress on your body. Starting slow will help you correctly lose weight, with fewer chances of experiencing back pains.

3. Find a Gym Partner

A motivated gym partner will help develop a better exercise plan. In weight lifting, they will give you support so that you don't strain your body and cause muscular imbalances which may lead to complications.

4. Cut Unhealthy Habits

Avoid eating junk while exercising, and eat more nutritious meals to gain muscle mass around your back. It would help if you also avoided unhealthy sleeping habits and posture.


Can Losing Extra Weight Cause Your Back To Hurt?

Yes, losing extra weight can cause your back to hurt. When a person loses weight, their body's gravitational center changes, leading to back strains.

What Helps With Back Pain After Weight Loss?

Maintaining good posture and eating healthy helps with back pain after weight loss.

How Do I Avoid Back Pain After Weight Loss?

To avoid back pain after a weight loss journey, get a partner to exercise with, start slow, and consult your doctor.

What Are The Symptoms Of Back Pain?

The symptoms of back pain are muscle aching, burning, or stabbing sensation around your back.

What Should I Do When My Back Hurts?

When your back hurts, apply heat or ice to the painful area. If it persists for long, consult your doctor.

When Should I Worry About My Back Pain?

You should worry about your back pain when you have been in severe pain for over a week.

Does Weight Loss Cause Back Pain?

Rapid weight loss due to intense workouts and loss of muscular tone can cause back and joint pains. Also, introducing regular exercise too soon may result in weariness and body aggravation.

When you lose weight and body fat by cutting your diet, you risk malnutrition which affects bone density and can cause back pain.

If you're looking for a way to lose weight without putting too much strain on your musculoskeletal system, check out our top recommended fat-burning creams.

These creams also stimulate blood circulation and accelerate the metabolism rate, helping you recover from back pain more easily.


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