Overweight kids may be at higher risk for back pain

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Obese and overweight children are at higher risk for conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol, studies have shown, but they may also be more susceptible to back pain and spinal problems.

In a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Radiological Society in Chicago, researchers found a link between having a higher body mass index and disc abnormalities. They examined MRIs of 188 children ages 12 to 20 who had complained of back pain. The MRIs revealed that 56% of the children had some lumbar spine abnormalities.


Age-adjusted BMI was calculated for 106 patients; 54 had a BMI greater than the 75th percentile for their age, and 37 (68.5%) of those children had abnormal findings on their MRIs. The 34 children who were at or below a healthy weight had normal spine MRIs.

‘These results demonstrate a strong relationship between increased BMI in the pediatric population and the incidence of lumbar disc disease,’ said Dr. Judah Burns, the study’s lead author, in a news release. Burns, a fellow in neuroradiology at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, added, ‘Back pain causes significant morbidity in adults, affecting quality of life and the ability to be productive.’

-- Jeannine Stein