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Pain Relief with Weight Loss

The Top 5 Pain Conditions that Benefit from Weight Loss

Unless you live under a rock, you're probably aware that being obese is not a good thing. It can cause a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. However, what you might not know is that being obese can also cause several kinds of chronic pain. In fact, people who are overweight have a 20 percent higher chance of experiencing chronic pain. Here are the five pain conditions that can result from obesity.

Low Back Pain

Your spine is the part of your body that holds everything together. One of its primary responsibilities is to carry the weight of the body. If you are overweight, this puts a huge strain on the spine. Over time, this can lead to structural damage or misalignment of the spine. In particular, the lower back is the part of the spine that is most sensitive to this stress. Being overweight also leads to bad posture, which adds even more stress on the low back. 

Some painful conditions that can be caused by obesity include sciatica, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. Additionally, if the spine gets pushed out of alignment, it might put pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain that could radiate through the limbs. 


Studies show that there is a strong correlation between being overweight and having arthritis. While one in five Americans have arthritis, that percentage jumps to one in three among the obese. Arthritis causes pain because of the breakdown of protective cartilage surrounding the joints in the knee, hip, shoulder, and other parts of the body. When a person is overweight, this puts even more pressure on the vulnerable joints, wearing down any remaining cartilage and causing the bones to rub on each other. 

Obesity can play a role in making both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis much worse. One pound of fat puts about four pounds of extra stress on the knee joints. This pressure can really add up if a person is more than a few pounds overweight. Not only that, but fat tissue itself is an irritant to joints and is known to cause inflammation and swelling. This is particularly problematic for those with rheumatoid arthritis, as they already have to deal with swelling of the joints.

Shoulder Pain

New research has revealed that obese people have a higher risk of certain shoulder injuries than non-obese people. In particular, obese people are more likely to have rotator cuff tendinitis or a rotator cuff surgery. Scientists believe this is because the extra weight obese people carry in their arms and upper back puts too much strain on the structures of the shoulder. In addition, the extra weight could be impairing blood supply to the shoulder, limiting nutrition and causing muscles to weaken.

Quite obviously, all of these problems will definitely cause shoulder pain, especially when you try to raise or extend your arm. You might also find you have less mobility and range of motion in your shoulders.

Neck Pain 

Just as the lower back is affected by extra weight, so is the neck. Your neck works to support the weight of your head. If you have extra weight in your neck and face, it could throw the alignment of your neck off balance and cause you to hold your head in an awkward position. While this doesn't sound like a huge problem, it can be over time. When you hold your head in a normal, upright position, it puts about 10 pounds of pressure on your neck. However, when you lean forward to only a 15 degree angle, that pressure increases to 27 pounds. At a 45 degree angle, it's nearly 50 pounds.

Because weight gain typically happens gradually, you might not even realize that your posture is the problem until it is too late.


Most people who are overweight also experience headaches of some form. In fact, they are are 81 percent more likely to have migraines headaches than people who are of a normal weight. Migraines typically cause severe head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea.

While scientists can't pinpoint the exact correlation, they believe that inactivity plays a role. Obese people usually lead sedentary lifestyles, which is known to increase the risk of migraines by 21 to 50 percent. Another theory is that fat tissue secretes inflammatory substances that could put pressure on the head. 

Unfortunately, obesity edidemic is getting worse year after year, meaning that chronic pain is becoming more and more prevalent. If you are suffering from chronic pain related to obesity, please come into Inegrative Pain Institute for a weight loss consultation. Our pain specialists can work with you to treat your pain symptoms as well as formulate a diet and lifestyle plan to get you to a comfortable weight.  Call us now at 972-290-1507 to schedule an appointment.


Neil Verma, MD Chief Medical Officer - *The opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the author. Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Should you need medical advice, see your physician.

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