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Obesity and Pain: The Link is Prominent

Obesity and PainStudies are now showing that individuals who struggle with their weight also struggle with more pain.

The negative results of obesity continue to emerge, with a recent study of more than 1 million people finding a link between carrying extra weight and everyday pain.

Researchers found that the heaviest individuals in the study also reported the highest rates of pain.

For instance, in 2010, the Journal of Pain conducted a study of nearly 3,500 twins. The results showed a link between weight and various painful conditions, including lower back pain, tension-type or migraine headache, fibromyalgia, abdominal pain and chronic widespread pain. The researchers found the pain was not merely due to mechanical stress on the joints due to a heavier load, but also depression (also brought on by obesity) and some genetic factors.

More recently, data was collected and analyzed from telephone surveys conducted by the Gallup Organization. Respondents indicated their height and weight, which researchers used to calculate body mass index (BMI), and also answered questions about pain, including whether they had "experienced pain much of the day yesterday."

One idea is that an obese person's excess fat triggers physiological processes that result in inflammation, which is associated with pain. Another explanation could be depression, which has been shown to be associated with pain. Obesity, depression and chronic conditions have genetic influences, suggesting underlying genetics could be partially to blame, the researchers note.

Psychosocial and environmental factors also play an important role. For people with arthritis, the pain may discourage physical activities that can help to maintain normal weight (e.g., exercising). Thus, as pain increases, inactivity can result in weight gain. Researchers found that as weight increased, so did the likelihood that a person would experience pain.

WebMD, a leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news, also agrees that many chronic conditions which cause pain are more prevalent in people who are overweight and obese. They are also at risk for many other medical conditions, including Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and heart attack.

Suggestions would be to try to trim off the extra pounds and, at the very least, stay as active as possible.

Bottom line - more weight, more pain.

Jersey Rehab is now in WEST ORANGE at 776 Northfield Ave. - Suite 2A.  Call 973-399-PAIN for an appointment.


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