The Connection Between Obesity and Chronic Pain

There has been a longstanding correlation between obesity and the use of prescription opioids. The CDC defines prescription opioids as medications that are used to treat moderate to severe pain. What causes this link between obese individuals and their use of medication? In an article by the General Surgery News by David Holzman, entitled ‘Obesity Linked to Higher Levels of Pain, Opioid Scripts’, Holzman reveals that two studies found a link between these two factors – chronic pain.

How Chronic Pain Links Obesity and Prescription Opioid Use

There are many factors that lead to painkiller use. One study found that around one quarter of Americans who have been using prescription painkillers for a long period of time were overweight. While there are a variety of conditions and reasons that someone could need painkillers, it was found that, when it came to overweight individuals, there was one linking factor – chronic pain.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for longer than three months. Obese people, more often than not, cited joint and back pain as the reason that they sought medical help. Both studies cited by the article linked above found another curious correlation – obese patients were more likely to be prescribed painkillers than patients who were of or below an average weight.

The Wellness Connection

While chronic pain is not to be taken lightly, and there are many reasons why someone may need prescription opioids. However, this study reveals that doctors are prescribing their patients highly-addictive medication when there should be something else taken into account – overall wellness. If their chronic pain is related to their body weight, this should be taken into account before prescribing strong medications with a high chance of developing addiction.

Dr. Andrew Stokes, from Boston University School of Public Health, realizes the correlation between obesity and prescription opiate use extends beyond being overweight. “We also see many youths are gaining obesity without choosing it, as a result of their environments… nutrition, wellness and activity is a conversation that all (doctors) need to have with their patients who have pain and are overweight and obese.” Addressing the environmental factors contributing to obesity could, for some patients, be a more sustainable way of addressing their chronic pain issues than prescribing medication.

How We Can Help

Is your weight contributing to uncomfortable chronic pain? Weightloss and Wellness Centres can help, with a variety of programs to keep you living your healthiest life. With 4 clinics throughout New Jersey, there are many different options for weight loss, ranging from surgery to nutritional counselling. Are you ready to start your weight loss journey? Call (973) 888-1085­­ or request a consultation with us today!