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Severe back pain 6-12 months out (60-100 lbs lost)



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Posted (edited)

For the past 6 months I've been dealing with severe back pain. Both upper and lower back pain. It seems to shift around depending on the month. Tylenol barely helps. I took prednisone one time and that did help but I don't think that's a long-term solution. It's already wearing off. I've tried physical therapy twice in the past year.

I've had x-rays and MRIs the doctors don't see anything. I did visit with a specialist at New England Baptist spine center i Boston and he said he's had several other cases of people who had the same surgery, had lost 60 lb, knew their Protein intake and were having severe back pain. He didn't have an immediate answer, but did order another MRI.

I'm curious if anyone else on this forum has dealt with this. It seems counterintuitive to lose 100 lb and have back pain get worse. I do have a history of back pain. I've been a physical therapy many times. But I never expected it to get worse as I lost weight. If you have this problem and had any success dealing with it (or not) please let me know. Thank you, Jonathan

Edited by Jonathan Carlson

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Posted (edited)

I started having back pain after losing 50+ pounds and it lasted a couple months. In my case I started going to a chiropractor for adjustments. I was told as I lost weight, everything shifts and needs to be realigned. My body was used to carrying around over 300 pounds so it stands to reason that my back, hips etc would be out of whack.

I also had shooting pains down both legs when I did my daily 2-3 mile walks. It scared me. My chiro worked on those as well. Pinched nerves from being overweight and sedentary sitting. I was waking them up with exercise. I pushed through it all and after about 3 months of adjustments and additional weight loss, my pain is gone. All of it.

You mentioned having physical therapy. Not sure if that included any chiropractic help but it might be worth a try. It sure helped me and hoping the same for you.

Edited by BabySpoons

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I recall having some unusual pain, too - but not severe. As BabySpoons said, I think it had to do with everything re-aligning after a substantial weight loss. Fortunately, though, it was temporary.

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yep i had back (and hip) pains for a few months after dropping the first 30lbs or so. like others above i asked my dic and did some of my own research and its seems the answer is as the above posters mentioned.

- Water and mineral bone loss (reduction of bone density) during weight loss (especially at a rapid rate) may cause spinal misalignments due to the weaker structure, hence pain.

- muscle tone loss: your remaining muscles are working harder to make up for the loss, hence pain.

- your centre of gravity is changing: your back was used to carrying the weight of your belly and it's reduction in size is affecting your posture, hence pain.

its a bit of a changeover period, but with some effort you can decrease the discomfort: exercise, stretching, sit/stand up straight, good nutrition, good sleeping position, body alignments (chiro) and what no one wants to really hear: slower weight loss rate. by losing weight slower, you allow your body time to adjust as you lose weight instead of playing catchup which causes relatively more pain.

those weight loss pains eventually went away (i can't remember exactly when..maybe around 6-7-8 months post op?), but i do have morning back pain now if i sleep on my stomach (which has always been my preferred sleeping position), but that's another story.

im 5+ yrs out

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Yep, me too. I had upper back pain. Getting a bra that actually fit & was supportive helped a lot but that’s not an option for you - Lol! I had some acupuncture too.

As @ms.sss said, a changing centre of gravity because of your weight loss is a big contributor. Your body (muscles, tendons, sinews) was used to holding itself in a certain way to counteract & balance the weight you carried, now it’s relearning how to hold itself. I remember slouching for a while after because I didn’t have a tummy to prop me up anymore. I used to check & correct myself to sit up or stand straighter until it became more automatic & natural.

Yes it was temporary for me too. Can’t recall how long for though. Maybe a physio can help with some exercise & stretches to build up your postural muscles again. Or some good massages or acupuncture.

Congrats on your weight loss though!


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I started going to the Chiro at 2 weeks PO, my hips were locked, I have stage 2 arthritis through my whole back. For the first 3 months I went 3 times a week for adjustments, now I go once a week. It has helped a ton! I still have back pain and I know some of it is just my body adjusting to losing 179 pounds. It is pretty amazing with the adjustments and weight loss to have some mobility back! My gait is a lot better, I stand more upright, and the back pain is a lot less than it was!

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Yes, I had back pain due to reasons the above posters said. I went to yoga for a year to help with the transition. I needed to tuck my but under my spine more and drop my shoulders down and back. I noticed the swing of my arms and legs changed. All of it was building new muscles and increasing range of motion. The floppy skin was even moving to a different tempo than the rest of me and I had to learn how to accommodate that!

Side note; when I had Covid they x-rayed my lungs to check for pneumonia. They then told me I have significant arthritis in my spine. The pain there reduced significantly with stretching and strengthening exercises.

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