Can Being Overweight Cause Back Pain?

Can Being Overweight Cause Back Pain?

While being overweight is becoming more common these days, most of us don't know that carrying extra weight is turning our spine into a ticking time bomb. We might have back pain for quite a while, and still, we won’t relate it to being overweight.

According to Statista, about 7,460 out of 100,000 people suffer from back pain[1], and being overweight is one of its main risk factors.

Buckle up as we answer the most asked question, “Can being overweight cause back pain?” and unfold the secrets about how our overweight is a heavy burden on our back's health.

Fivali Excess Weight Cause Back Pain - Guide


Understanding Back Pain from Overweight

Can excess weight cause back pain?

According to a huge study[2] in 2017, excessive weight and obesity are directly linked with lower back pain. In this study, researchers found obesity as the predisposing factor for future back problems.

Another cross-sectional study[3] also found an association between obesity and back pain. Besides these studies, there is still a high prevalence of obesity causing back pain.

And to your surprise, the prediction, according to these studies, is that the prevalence of obesity will keep on increasing in the coming decades as well.

Everyone has their own challenge in staying within the weight guidelines.

Have you ever tried to carry around a 20-pound bag all day long? It's really the same thing if someone is 20 pounds overweight.

While many studies show a correlation between overweight and back pain, there are also many studies that link obesity to other factors. Obesity has a relationship to heredity, culture, and our modern society. Obesity may be secondary to our sedentary lifestyle and habits. These same habits lead to inactivity, deconditioning, and inflammation of the body's chemistry. These same factors can contribute to the development of back pain.

Regardless of the strength of the scientific correlation between obesity and back pain, common sense holds true. We know that obesity leads to a number of medical conditions and risks that can contribute to back pain. Weight has a significant effect on back pain and recovery from back pain.


What is Obesity or Overweight?

In the US alone, about 2 out of 5 people suffer from obesity[4]. Obesity and overweight are defined as the excessive or abnormal accumulation of adipose tissues (fat). If the body weight is 20% more than it normally should be, it is considered obese. However, to accurately measure our weight status, we should know our BMI score.

BMI is an acronym for body mass index. It is a measure of our body fat, depending on our height and weight.  There are four BMI categories depending on the score.

BMI Categories

BMI Score



Normal Weight





A BMI of 30 or greater


We can easily calculate our BMI by dividing our weight in kilograms by our height in meter squares. If the BMI score is 25 or greater, it is called obese, and the person is more likely to get back issues.

Excessive fat puts more stress on the discs, bones, and joints around the spine. As a result, they start to wear out sooner. This is because these structures of our bodies are not designed to bear the extra weight that we put on them. There are small joints in the back of the spine called facet joints. When there's excessive pressure put on it in the form of extra fat, the discs may start to dehydrate and tear.


Types and Symptoms of Back Pain Due to Obesity

Back pain due to obesity is manifested in different regions of our back. Each region has its own set of symptoms. Here is an outline of how obesity contributes to back pain in different areas:

(1) Upper Back (Thoracic Region)

  • Muscle Strain: Excess weight puts a lot of pressure on the muscles in the upper back. These overweight back problems can lead to stiffness and discomfort.
  • Kyphosis: Obesity can exacerbate poor posture and add fuel to the fire of back problems. It results in an increased curvature of the upper spine (kyphosis), which can cause pain and stiffness.

(2) Middle Back (Thoracic Region)

  • Thoracic Spine Compression: Overweight back pain, especially in the mid-back area, occurs due to the compression of the thoracic spine.
  • Nerve Irritation: Excessive weight puts pressure on nerves. It results in radiating pain and numbness in the middle back.

(3) Lower Back (Lumbar Region)

  • Lumbar Lordosis: An increased curve in the lower back is known as lordosis. Excessive fat results in straining the muscles and can lead to chronic pain.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: A high ratio of body fat to muscle accelerates wear and tear on spinal discs. It leads to degenerative changes that cause pain in the lumbar region.

General Symptoms

  • Chronic Pain: Obesity-related back pain is like a constant thorn in one's side as it is chronic, persistent, and worsens with physical activity or prolonged standing.
  • Limited Mobility: One might experience difficulty bending, twisting, or even sitting for extended periods due to back pain.
  • Radiating Pain: Depending on the area affected, the pain may radiate from the back into the buttocks, thighs, or even down the legs.


How to Treat Back Pain Caused by Obesity or Overweight?

The strongest of the body's muscles are on the back of our body. Every pound on the body puts more strain on the spine. Therefore, reducing the weight will automatically reduce the pressure on the spine, and hence, the back pain is alleviated.

Physical therapists involve a number of therapies such as massage, back relief products, manual therapy, and electrical stimulation to loose muscles, alleviate inflammation, and reduce back pain.

High-quality medical back braces such as those from Fivali provide support and alleviate strain on the spine.  Not only do these braces help reduce pain, but they are great for improving posture.

Fivali Back Relief Products - Guide

However, there's a notable gap in the market for plus-size individuals when it comes to effective back braces. Fivali, a company attentive to plus-size needs, recognizes this gap and offers specialized XXL back braces. These braces are designed to provide adequate support and comfort for larger body types.
These braces are tailored to accommodate the unique dimensions and contours of plus-size individuals. This ensures they receive the necessary support without discomfort or inadequate fit.
From answering one of the most concerning questions "can being overweight cause back pain" to treatment recommendations, we hope this article will help you in some way. When it comes to innovation at every inch, Fivali stands out from the crowd. Each Fivali brace is tailored, keeping the struggling individuals in mind. Discover how Fivali raising the bar in plus-size comfort with their range of specialized back braces.



[1] Back pain in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts. Available at: (Accessed: 18 June 2024)
[2] Associations between Obesity and Spinal Diseases: A Medical Expenditure Panel Study Analysis. Available at: (Accessed: 18 June 2024)
[3] The association between obesity and back pain in nine countries: a cross-sectional study. Available at: (Accessed: 18 June 2024)
[4] Overweight & Obesity Statistics. Available at: (Accessed: 18 June 2024)

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