Obesity Worsens Your Tolerance to Pain

Last year, I told you about the prevalence of bad knee conditions among the obese. If you’re fighting obesity and feeling a lot of physical aches and pains, chances are good you don’t tolerate them very well either, according to a new study.

Researchers measured the pain reflexes of 62 seniors (all suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee) by giving them mild electrical shocks in their ankles before and after a session detailing better ways to cope with pain, like learning relaxation techniques. The wild card: About a third of the patients tested were obese with body mass index numbers in the 30-34 range.

No surprise, every patient — obese or not — felt less pain after the 45-minute session on natural alternatives. Based on the physical response to sural nerve stimulation (this nerve stretches along the ankle to the calf), however, obese patients didn’t tolerate pain nearly as well as other participants did.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that usually occurs among seniors, and is more frequent among women. The disease results from structural changes in the articular cartilage in the joints, usually those that are weight bearing such as the spine and knees. The two things you can do to treat your pain:

Science Blog March 2, 2006