Numerous small studies over the years have suspected a link between people who are overweight or obese and increased pain. The link makes intuitive sense, but the studies that have been done have not included large numbers.
The recent study that was performed was published in the Journal of Obesity and included survey results from a few years time. Period study included an unbelievable 1 million participants and probably have more people than all studies combined from last decade.
This is a large number of respondents and include more patients than probably from the last decade any of the previous data of studies. Questions included height and weight along with whether the respondents had experienced pain yesterday and other data points.
Overall, 63% of the survey participants were classified as overweight or obese. This is consistent with the reported national average of approximately 67% being either overweight or obese. Those who were classified as obese were further stratified into one of 3 obesity levels according to the definition by the World Health Organization.
Beginning with the group that was overweight, higher rate of pain was at 20% compared to baseline. Moving into the 3 additional category levels, group 1 had a 68% higher incidence of pain, while the 2nd group of obesity have an increased incidence of pain at 136%. The 3rd group which represented the most obese in the population studied, had a 254% increased incidence of pain.
These results solidify the link between obesity and pain in the United States. The study researchers theorized multiple explanations for the link. The first was the typical one including increased weight predisposing patients to arthritis and more pain with less arthritis in obese individuals as more stresses placed across the surface area of the joints.
It is well known from various research studies that when obese individuals drop weight their pain from arthritis goes down.
The 2nd reason that the researchers thought there was an increased amount of pain in obese patients was because of depression. Obesity is linked to depression and then depression has a link to pain. So the researchers looked at this link from one to another and theorized that obesity leads to pain through depression.
The 3rd reason that the study authors thought obesity lead to increased pain was possibly physiologic changes from the obesity that increased inflammation in the body and hence, pain levels went up. No bloodwork was actually done for the study, this was just a theory.
People who have an increased amount of weight classified as either overweight or obese can usually help their situations and decrease their pain by dropping some pounds.
They management programs will often include weight loss instruction and monitoring that goes along with the injections of medications and physical therapy in order to maximize the amount of pain reduction achieved.