Lumbar spinal stenosis treatment – Prolotherapy and weight loss

Doctors in Sweden are seeing an increase in the numbers of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis cases, they are also seeing an increase in the number of patients who have high body mass index – obesity.

Putting two plus two together – they found that higher incidence of obesity means higher incidence of Spinal Stenosis. Simply they concluded in their research that obese and overweight persons are at a higher risk of developing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and that obesity may be causing the significant rise in cases.1

What happens when an obese person with low back pain loses weight? According to research published in the journal Spine, quite a few positive outcomes.

Obesity’s impact on the low back

Researchers observed thirty morbidly obese patients with low back pain before and after bariatric surgery.2

Knowing that obese people commonly complain of low back pain and that weight loss tends to improve back pain and quality of life, these researchers set out to discover what exactly happens to the low back when weight is reduced. They specifically measured intervertebral disc height, axial back pain, radicular leg pain and quality of life both before and after surgery. The results showed positive outcomes in all of these areas. The bariatric surgery led to significant weight loss, an average of 182-219 pounds. The weight loss resulted in decreased low back pain and radicular pain and also a marked improvement in the disc height of the L4-L5 disc height.

Prolotherapy for low back pain

As stated, excess weight puts pressure on the ligaments. Like a rubber band that loses tension, the ligaments of the spine can loosen. Loose or lax ligaments cannot support the vertebrae in place and as they move, chronic pain results. If, after weight loss, chronic low back pain continues, Prolotherapy is a suitable treatment option to address the ligament laxity that resulted from the pressure of the excess weight.

Danielle R. Steilen, MMS has written a number of articles on the subject of obesity, chronic low back pain, and the Prolotherapy program. Her articles include Obesity and Back Pain, and How obesity and diet effect stem cells.

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1. Knutsson B, Sandén B, Sjödén G, Järvholm B, Michaëlsson K. Body mass index and risk for clinical lumbar spinal stenosis: A cohort study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Lidar Z, Behrbalk E, Regev G, Salame K, Keynan O, et al. Intervertebral disc height changes after weight reduction in morbidly obese patients and its effect on quality of life and radicular and low back pain. Spine. 2012;37(23):1947-1952.