European Spine Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 467–473 | Cite as

Has overweight any influence on the effectiveness of conservative treatment in patients with low back pain?

Original Article



Low back pain and overweight are two relevant disabling health conditions. To date, there is a lack of information about the effectiveness of nonoperative therapy in persons with overweight and low back pain. The aim of our study was to evaluate if overweight has any influence on the effectivity of conservative treatment in patients with low back pain during a mid- to long-term time period.


128 patients with low back pain participated in this study. All of them got an inpatient conservative treatment program. The weight status was classified according to the body mass index (BMI) in three weight groups (normal, overweight, obesity). The patients were asked to fill out a standardized questionnaire regarding self-reported pain with the visual analog scale and their disability with the Oswestry Disability Index and the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire at four time points (beginning and end of hospital stay and after 5 and 17 months).


Concerning the short-term results of the three scores, we always observed an improvement of the patients’ condition with statistically significant reduction of pain and disability at discharge. This was true for the total collective as well as for each of the three BMI-groups when considered separately. The pain intensity and disability were still and mostly statistically significantly decreased in the mid- to long-term follow-up. Regarding the three BMI-groups among themselves, the differences of the data in the pain and disability scores showed generally no statistical significance.


We conclude for the first time that a conservative treatment program in patients even with chronic low back pain is effective both in a short-term and a mid- to long-term time period respectively without any significant differences between patients with a normal BMI or with overweight or obesity.


BMI Body mass index Conservative treatment Low back pain Obesity Overweight 



We want to thank Dr. Ludwig Hoy from the Institute for Biometry, Hannover Medical School, Germany, for his excellent support in performing the statistical analyses.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Spine Section, Orthopedic Department of Hannover Medical SchoolDiakoniekrankenhaus Annastift gGmbHHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Clinic for Anesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain TherapyKlinikum Nordstadt, Klinikum Region HannoverHannoverGermany

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