Obesity's Effect on Chronic Pain

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Obesity is linked to dozens of health risks. From high blood pressure, to diabetes, to sleep troubles, being extremely overweight can affect your quality of life from morning till night. Obesity can also take a toll on your chronic pain. In fact, individuals with a higher body mass are twice as likely to have chronic pain compared with people who maintain a healthy weight.1

 
Some of the most common pain associated with obesity is joint-related. The more you weigh, the bigger the load your joints and muscles have to support. This is especially true with the knee, hip and lower back. Extra weight can push in to spaces between bones and cause intense pain in the back. Obese people usually have increased levels of inflammation due to metabolic syndromes, which can also lead to lower back pain. Obesity can also lead to a greater risk of osteoarthritis in the knee and hip.
 
Not only are the risks of chronic pain heightened when you’re significantly overweight, your ability to recover from chronic pain is affected as well. Obese individuals usually have a lower level of physical activity, one of the most-utilized treatments for chronic pain.   Rates of infection are higher in obese patients that undergo lumbar surgery and depending on the individual, physical therapy may not be an option.
 
Losing weight is often the first step toward tackling chronic pain in obese individuals. Maintaining a healthy weight not only takes the physical strain off your joints, it can also increase your psychological well being. A weight loss plan that combines a healthy diet with exercise is usually effective, but may be too painful for some individuals. Bariatric surgery is another option that should be discussed with your doctor. 
 
Whichever route you choose to reach a healthy weight, a comprehensive approach, like one designed by the experts at the Washington Center for Pain Management, can help you minimize your chronic pain. 
 
1 “The Effects of Obesity on Chronic Pain.” Freedom Pain Hospital. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2014.