Exploring the Intertwined Relationship of Pain and Obesity

Ann Quinlan-Colwell, PhD, RN_PMGT, AHNBC

There are numerous non-modifiable factors that contribute to or increase painful experiences. The following abstract is for a Southern Pain Society presentation that addresses one important and generally modifiable factor that negatively affects pain management.

Introduction:  When addressing pain management from a multimodal perspective it is important to address factors that contribute to or may increase pain or impede managing pain. Excess weight is one such factor that is generally modifiable, yet many health care professionals avoid discussing weight management with patients experiencing pain.

Background:  The relationship between chronic pain and obesity is established, often circular, complex, and generally modifiable. Regardless of which occurs first, pain or obesity, as one increases the other often increases as well. Obesity limits activities often resulting in pain with movement that in turn further limits activity thus leading to increased weight gain with progressive disuse.

Research:  Recent research investigating obesity, pain, and the relationship between the two will be presented. Various pharmaceutical, surgical, and nonpharmacologic interventions to effectively manage obesity will be explored.

Discussion:  The relationship between obesity and pain, as well as related research, treatment options and treatment approaches will be discussed. Specific patient experiences will be shared outlining their struggles with obesity and pain, and the interventions that were effective for them. This discussion will offer clinicians a variety of techniques and options to share with patients.

I encourage you to learn more about this topic when you attend the 38th Annual Southern Pain Society Meeting at our new New Orleans location September 20 through 22, 2024.