Harvard Health Letter

Drop pounds to relieve back pain

Strengthening your core muscles can also help.

You may worry about your heart or diabetes if you're packing on a few extra pounds. But a new study finds that extra weight also contributes to disc degeneration in your spine, particularly in the lumbar region.

In the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers studied more than 2,500 adults and found that disc degeneration tended to be more common, more severe, and more extensive among overweight or obese participants.

"Losing weight definitely helps reduce pressure on the discs," says Dr. Donald Reilly, assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »