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Ideal BMI to reduce sciatica and disc pain.

GaladrielGGaladriel Posts: 9
edited 02/02/2016 - 7:37 PM in Diet, Nutrition, Weight Loss
Hi to everyone here :) ,

Just wanted to introduce myself first. I've had lower back pain on and off for about 8 years now and sciatica type pain for the past year. I've tried many things to reduce the pain. In my "pain management toolbox", I use (in addition to analgesia) a TENS machine, physiotherapy exercises, heat and ice therapy and relaxation exercises. These have a greater or lesser effect at different times. I've recently taken steps to reduce my weight and successfully lost 11 lbs. I think there has been a slight improvement in pain level and I think it helps that I am eating healthier food as more energy means I can keep a better posture etc.

Why I am posting is because I was wondering where the cut off point is? What is the ideal BMI or weight to help with spinal pain? Is there one? It seems that a BMI of 19-25 is recommended but is 19 better than 25 or vice versa? Are there advantages to being underweight? If anyone has any insight I'd be very grateful.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 02/02/2016 - 7:37 PM
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • is between the figures you stated. You can be between these number but the lower number does not qualify as underweight.

    Any weight loss can help remove extra pressure on your back but as importantly, it will remove pressure from your internal organs. This can improve general health, breathing and lung capacity, which can improve circulation to all areas of the back or areas that can benefit from good quality circulation, which can aid healing in some cases, so congratulations on your weight loss so far.

    Good muscle tone in your core can also help support a back with problems so engaging your core is a good thing to learn. You can do it anywhere, anytime and will give the back extra support when you have to put any strain on it. I find one of the most painful moves for my back is when I have to bend slightly forward, so I use core engagement for extra support.

    Well done again on your weight loss and welcome to the forum
    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015

  • Thanks AJ  and hello, it looks like you've had a tough last 3 years (at least). I also find forward bending aggravating and try and engage my core but sometimes forget , especially if I am focused on other things e.g.. at work :( 

    I don't think I was very clear with my question I'm sorry, I don't think a BMI of 19 is underweight. I was wondering whether there were any benefits to reducing pain or pressure on the spine by being e.g. BMI 18 or 17. I know being underweight is unhealthy for other reasons but I thought logically it might be of benefit pain wise. 

    My core muscles are something I work with my PT, when they are better it is a big help. 
  • cspencer13ccspencer13 CaliforniaPosts: 37
    BMI is kind of hit or miss. Unless you get the hydrostatic testing, you really don't know your BMI...it's just a guess and BMI guesses are notoriously bad.

    I think the goal should be health, not a number. Your perfect BMI number for your back issues probably won't be the same as anyone elses. You've got to maintain some healthy fats in your diet for joint health so I would imagine a really low BMI would probably not be helpful, but then again I've never had a BMI lower than 19. ;) But, if you think about everything that goes into your BMI....I'd bet that really low BMI does NOT help with issues with joints. 
    39y.o. mom of 4
    3/2/16 - L5/S1 fusion after a decade of trying everything else
    2015 - developed Occipical Neuralgia and bulges at C4/5 and C5/6
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