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Bariatric Surgery May Lead to Back Pain Improvements

Last Updated: June 15, 2009.

The substantial weight loss resulting from bariatric surgery may be associated with moderate improvements in pre-existing low back pain in the following year, according to research published in the June issue of The Spine Journal.

MONDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- The substantial weight loss resulting from bariatric surgery may be associated with moderate improvements in pre-existing low back pain in the following year, according to research published in the June issue of The Spine Journal.

Paul Khoueir, M.D., of the Universite de Montreal, and colleagues analyzed data from 38 morbidly obese patients with chronic axial low back pain who answered questionnaires preoperatively and 12 months after undergoing weight reduction surgery. Over this period, patients showed a decrease in mean body mass index from 52.25 to 38.32.

Patients showed a 44-percent decrease in axial back pain on the Visual Analog Scale and increases in mean physical health (by 58 percent) and median mental health (by 6 percent) on the Short Form-36 Health Survey, the researchers note.

Because of "serious potential complications with surgery, nonsurgical treatments, such as diet and exercise programs, need to be investigated to determine their beneficial effects on low back pain in obese patients. This study shows that important weight loss over a short period of time could result in reduction in chronic axial back pain," the authors write. "However, it is difficult to extrapolate those results to nonsurgical treatments, as they probably do produce less drastic and efficient weight loss over a longer period of time."

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