Obesity Increases Pain Sensitivity?
A small study of pain reaction, whichincluded 62 older adults with osteoarthritisof the knee, showed that obese peoplemay be more sensitive to pain than thosewho are not overweight. Before and aftercompleting a 45-minute coping-skills session,study participants—one third ofwhom were obese—received a mild electricalshock on the left ankle causing tinglingand mild pain in the lower leg. Theresearchers wanted to determinewhether coping-skills training, whichincluded progressive muscle-relaxationexercises,would help ease pain. They alsowere interested in how obese peoplerespond to pain. By measuring the reflexof the lower leg muscles, the researchersdetermined that the obese participantshad a greater physical response to painthan those who were not obese. Studyauthor Charles Emery, professor of psychologyat Ohio State University, said: "Forsubjective indicators of pain, obese peopleindicated similar levels of pain tononobese people, but when we looked atobjective indicators, we found that theobese group had a lower threshold forpain." Findings from this study were presentedat the annual meeting of theAmerican Psychosomatic Society.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.