, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 389-393
Date: 01 Jun 2003

Low-Back Pain in Morbidly Obese Patients and the Effect of Weight Loss Following Surgery

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Background: Although low-back pain (LBP) is a common health problem and a source of significant discomfort, disability and work absences, its incidence, severity and outcome have not been extensively investigated in morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. Methods: 50 morbidly obese candidates for vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) were asked to fill in a questionnaire, to assess the incidence and severity of any existing LBP symptoms. 50 non-obese patients, admitted to our surgical unit for management of several benign conditions, were also asked to fill in the same questionnaire and served as controls. 24 months after VBG, the morbidly obese patients were again evaluated for their LBP symptoms. Results: LBP was identified in 29 morbidly obese patients (58%) preoperatively and in only 12 (24%) of the lean controls (P<0.01). 2 years after VBG, with a significant excess weight loss (P<0.0001), only 10 patients continued to have LBP but less frequently and requiring reduced doses of medications compared with the preoperative condition. In the remaining 19 patients with preoperative positive LBP history, the postoperative weight loss was associated with complete resolution of the symptoms. Conclusion: The frequency of LBP is significantly higher in morbidly obese patients than in lean subjects. Surgical weight reduction results in significant improvement and even disappearance of this obesity co-morbidity.