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Weight Loss Can Help Relieve Pain

I overheard Stephanie (Ideal Health) talking about how she has clients who lose weight and have less pain and less inflammation. A blog idea came to mind and research ensued…..

 Do those few extra pounds really cause pain? Over the past few years as a massage therapist, I have noticed some trends.

  1. Sitting at a desk or driving all day causes repetitive stress injuries. Most often seen in the neck and shoulders.
  2. Exercising too HARD all the time sets you up for injuries.  Runners who never take time off eventually HAVE to because of chronic pain, especially in the lower extremities.
  3. Excess weight has a serious impact on your bones, joints, and muscles.

“….obesity in some cases raises the risk of getting a certain type of arthritis; in all cases, obesity makes arthritis worse. One in 5 Americans has been diagnosed with arthritis, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that number jumps to more than 1 in 3 among obese people – and 2 out of 3 Americans are either overweight or obese.”  *arthritist.org*

Joints can carry a certain amount of weight and stress. Putting too much weight or stress on your joints can cause problems. Did you know that every pound of weight gained puts an extra four pounds of pressure on each of your knee joints? So, if you gained just five pounds, it would be like adding 20 pounds to each knee. If you have osteoarthritis (OA) you really want to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can affect how quickly those joints can break down. “Weight plays an important role in joint stress, so when people are very overweight, it puts stress on their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints, like the knees and the hips,” says Eric Matteson, MD, chair of the rheumatology division at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

I remember the pain I had before my hip replacement. I can not imagine if I had gained 5,10, 15 lbs how that would have made things worse.  Joint pain can be a vicious circle. Your knees hurt when you walk so you don’t walk. You don’t walk you gain weight. The extra weight makes your knees hurt more. Now you have extra weight and those complications and the knee pain…..oiy!

To add more complications of excess weight. There are studies showing that there are chemicals in fat cells that cause inflammation. One important group is called adipokines, and most types of adipokines promote inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to pain conditions, especially in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). *arthritist.org*  Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis also with links to obesity. 

WebMD shared results of a study that was done regarding obesity and pain (click on the LiveScience to read study). The study showed an increase in the amount of pain reported when comparing normal BMI to above normal BMI.  “Compared with participants who ranked as low-to-normal weight, the overweight group was 20 percent more likely to report pain yesterday, while the obesity-I group reported 68 percent higher rates of pain, a number that climbed to 136 percent and 254 percent for obesity-II and obesity-III groups, respectively.” 

Along with problems for joints, a relationship has also been shown in patients with Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and obesity.  “Obesity was related significantly to greater pain sensitivity to TP (tender point) palpation particularly in the lower body areas, reduced physical strength and lower-body flexibility, shorter sleep duration, and greater restlessness during sleep. The results confirmed that obesity is a prevalent comorbidity of FMS that may contribute to the severity of the problem.” *ScienceDirect*

Why do I a little ol massage therapist share these facts with you? 95% of what passes my door is pain complaints. As a massage therapist, I feel it is my duty to help educate my clients on ways to reduce pain. I want all of my clients to be healthy and most importantly pain-free.  If being overweight is complicating your pain issues, you need to be aware that losing even a few pounds can help.  It is not just heart disease and diabetes that is a health problem related to obesity. Pain is related; knee pain, back pain, RA, Gout, and even arthritis pain in the hands has been shown to increase with excess fat weight.