By Dr. Jason Slagel | March 13th, 2021
Some people try to blame their pain on their obesity. In some cases this is true, but what I have seen in practice is that this is far less true than you would think. I recently had a lady patient who is over 400 lbs and she had low back pain that was excruciating especially when she worked since she was on her feet all day. She was worried that she would not be able to work and not be able to pay her rent and take care of herself. After a couple weeks of care, she was pain-free and has been pain-free for about 7 months without losing any weight.
Now, I do have to at least mention that obesity is not healthy and causes many different issues, but what I am clarifying is that for most people their pain is not actually being caused by their obesity. Most people’s pain is being AMPLIFIED or EXACERBATED by obesity, but the origin of the pain is actually something else. For most people, they would like to lose weight, but the pain actually limits them in working out, so they find it difficult to lose the weight, which means they put on more weight, and the cycle continues. If you have found yourself stuck in this cycle (or you know someone who is) then keep reading.
Here is what is happening in most obese people with pain
BRAINSTEM PRESSURE IS CREATING A CERTAIN POSTURE PATTERN. That posture pattern hurts worse the more obese you become, however, if the posture pattern is corrected back to balanced by relieving the Brainstem Pressure, then in most people, the obesity no longer causes the extra pain.
Here is how it works
The Atlas (the top bone in your neck) is responsible for most of the range of motion of your head, so since it is so mobile, it’s not very stable. This is why it can be shifted out of place easier than any other bone in the spine. If you have an injury that damages the connective tissue that holds the atlas in place, it can shift. The atlas surrounds the brainstem, which is why when the atlas shifts out of place it can put pressure on the brainstem. The picture below shows what this can look like.
Among other things, the brainstem controls muscle tone in the body. So, if you put pressure on one side of the brainstem, then this Brainstem Pressure causes the muscles on one side of the body to squeeze more than the other side of the body. This is what the pattern looks like:
As you can see, many secondary conditions can show up as a result of Brainstem Pressure and the Posture Pattern it creates. If you add more weight to this scenario, it just makes it hurt worse, but if you correct the Brainstem Pressure and the posture pattern straightens up and becomes balanced, then the obesity hurts much less, and many times the pain completely resolves. The picture on the left is the posture pattern that Brainstem Pressure Creates and the picture on the right is how you should be standing after the Brainstem Pressure is corrected:
The way we correct this problem is by addressing the root issue, which is the shift of the atlas out of position. We take extremely precise x-rays of the head and neck and measure that shift down to 1/100th of a degree from all three dimensions. Then, we can measure exactly how the atlas has shifted out of place and we can calculate how to correct it. This is all without any twisting, cracking, or popping. Once the atlas is corrected back to its proper position, the brainstem pressure is removed. This means that through this the pain that most people attribute to obesity can actually improve and possibly resolve.