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Back Pain after Gastric Sleeve

Reducing the stomach into a sleeve/banana-shaped structure that is one-fifth of its original size is an efficient way of reducing calorie intake and achieving weight loss in obese people.

Gastric sleeve surgery will not only make you lose weight, but it will also free you from obesity-associated disease conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, etc. Your lifespan will increase, and your quality of life should improve*.

Despite all these benefits, it is not uncommon for patients to experience back pain after gastric sleeve surgery. This is in contrast to many studies that have recorded improvement in low back pain and pain in other joints following gastric sleeve surgery.

Related: Gastric Sleeve Surgery Side Effects

Back Pain

One of the common health problems in obese people is a low back pain. It causes absence from work, resulting in significant loss of productivity. Other risk factors that may aggravate back pain in obese individuals include smoking and stressful activities. One explanation for the higher prevalence of low back pain among obese people is that the excess fat in them add to the load on the weight-bearing joints including the vertebral joints.

The excess weight in a most obese individual is usually due to fat around the abdominal region. This fat makes the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall weak. To maintain a stable posture and avoid fall, the back muscles had to do more work. So in short, as you were adding more weight, the abdominal muscles were getting weaker and your back muscles getting stronger and you attained a more curved spine (exaggerated lumbar lordosis).

Back Pain after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

After gastric sleeve surgery, you lose a significant amount of weight, especially around the abdominal region. This automatically reduces the load on your back muscles. However, because these back muscles have been under constant stress, they remain under tension. Your vertebral column is also returning to normal alignment from the excessive lumbar lordosis. All these contribute to your back pain.

Another cause of back pain after gastric sleeve surgery and other bariatric surgery is the loss of fat cushion on the back. The back consists of the vertebrae bones arranged on one another and separated by intervertebral discs. There are also ligaments and muscles that serve to stabilize the vertebral column and limit movements. With aging, degenerative changes start to occur in the bones and intervertebral discs. There may be the formation of bony projections known as osteophytes, and the center of the intervertebral discs may become dry while the fibrous outer rim becomes weak.

With the loss of significant weight after gastric sleeve surgery, the fat pad and its cushioning effect around the vertebral column is lost, mobility around the spine increases and underline vertebral or disc abnormalities become symptomatic.

Another possible cause of back pain after gastric sleeve surgery is increasing physical activities. As you transit from a sedentary life before surgery to being physically active after surgery, you put more stress on your joints and ligaments, and it would take these structures some time to adjust to this new activity level.

Inadequate intake of vitamin D and calcium may result in hypocalcemia (reduced blood calcium level). The body responds to this by mobilizing calcium from bones to correct the low blood calcium. Removal of calcium from bones results in osteoporosis with accompanying bone pain. In addition to back pain, there may also be hip pain and pain in other bones.

Inappropriate exercise routine may also be a cause of back pain. This further stressed the need to adhere to your physician’s advice on the type of exercise that is best for you at different times after your surgery.

To reduce back pain after gastric sleeve surgery, take your vitamin D and calcium supplements, engage in back exercises under supervision, strengthen your abdominal muscles to counterbalance the excessive pulling by your back muscles. Report any back pain to your physician and get evaluated to rule out medical causes that urgently require intervention.

About Renew Bariatrics

Renew Bariatrics is a weight-loss surgery facilitator, helping individuals seek affordable Gastric Sleeve Surgery in Tijuana while achieving high outcomes and low surgical risk. We’ve helped many individuals cure their obesity, learn more about

Reference lists

  • Cottam D, Qureshi FG, Mattar SG, et al. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy as an initial weight-loss procedure for high-risk patients with morbid obesity. Surg Endosc. 2006;20(6):859–863.
  • Çakır T, Oruç MT, Aslaner A, et al. The effects of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy on head, neck, shoulder, low back and knee pain of female patients. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(2):2668–2673.

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This article contains scientific and health-related references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.