How Much Does Pain Weigh?
Chronic Pain Can Correlate With Obesity
We can be pleasantly plump and healthy or neither pleasant or healthy. With so much diversity in body size, over twice as many obese persons report low back pain. Obesity is defined as an individual with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher. Additional correlations are reported between obesity and depression and morbidity.
Is everyone who is medically obese going to have lower back pain? Conversely, will everyone with lower back pain become obese? By correlation, we mean the outcomes coexist without a determination of which causes the other. Someone who is obese with chronic pain has two goals: Decrease pain and lose weight. Hopefully, one goal helps the other.
The prevalence of low back pain increases as BMI rises; less than 3 percent of people in the normal BMI range (18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2) reported low back pain, whereas 7.7 percent of obese (above 30 kg/m2) and 11.6 percent of morbidly obese (40 kg/m2) individuals reported low back pain in the United States cohort study of 6,796 adults.
Are you willing to get help to achieve your goals?
Think how difficult it is to lift a 5-gallon water bottle. It weighs 44-pounds (20 kg). Now imagine carrying this water bottle around with you wherever you go—to work, on your morning jogs, around the house, when you sleep in bed. Losing that much weight brings relief to your back, hips, knees, feet—your entire musculoskeletal support system.
Ask yourself, “Am I doing anything to lower my BMI?” If so, keep at it. If your actions or results are less than favorable, are you willing to get help to achieve your goals? If you are questioning whether you are actually overweight, can you pinch a handful of flesh at your waist, thigh or chin?
Without going on a diet, here are some simple things to do that will result in moderate weight loss over time. When grocery shopping, avoid the empty-calorie foods like crackers, chips and cookies. Replace them with nuts, unless you are allergic, or carrots and celery. Replace one of your daily meals with a salad—if not daily then four times per week. Drink water instead of diet soda. Eating healthy produces little visible reward when you are at a weight deficit. Regularly scheduled exercise is required to burn calories. To cope with chronic pain, consider over-the-counter pain relievers or see your doctor for a prescription.
A healthy weight is not a cure for all obesity but it can reduce strain on joints—possibly making chronic backache manageable with less medication. You may lack personal perseverance to remain A Bit More Healthy. That’s understandable. Consider that the amount you pay a personal trainer for several months is more than the cost of one ambulance ride for a major obesity-related event. How would you prefer to spend your money?