Bariatric Surgery and Low Back Pain: A Systematic Literature Review

Andrei Fernandes Joaquim*, Peter Helvie, Alpesh A. Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study Design: Systematic literature review. Objective: It is estimated that one third of the world population is overweight and 20% of adults have some low back symptoms at some point of their lives. The association of obesity and low back pain and physical deterioration has been well established. We designed this study to evaluate the role of bariatric surgery (BS) for lumbar spine symptoms in obese patients. Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using the PubMed database identifying lumbar spine symptoms (pain, functional status, disability index) and/or complications of lumbar spine surgery before and after BS. Study quality was assessed according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. Results: Ten studies were identified. Nine evaluated the role of BS in low back pain and/or functional status before and after surgery: all reported that bariatric surgery had a positive impact in improving low back pain symptoms and decreasing disability in severely obese patients. One study evaluated the role of posterior lumbar surgery in patients who were obese at the time of surgery and those who had a previous bariatric procedure: bariatric surgery decreased postoperative surgical complications. The level of the evidence was low (III and IV). Conclusions: Bariatric surgery in severely obese patients decreases the intensity of low back symptoms and also decreases disability secondary to back problems. Additionally, bariatric surgery may be advantageous for patients who need a posterior lumbar surgery and are severely obese. Prospective studies with longer follow-up are necessary to confirm this conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • bariatric surgery
  • low back pain
  • obesity
  • relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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