Healthy Living Blog

Can Weight Management Help with Chronic Pain?

Extra pounds can have a significant negative effect on your lower back.

That’s according to a 2010 review published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which assessed data from 95 high-quality studies. The conclusion? The risk for lower back pain was directly related to increases in body mass index (BMI).

Many people who have a higher BMI are also at greater risk for knee pain and osteoarthritis, which is the most common joint disorder in the world and is recognized as a significant source of disability. One study found that while 3.7% of people who have a BMI between 18.5 and 25 have osteoarthritis, 19.5% of those who have a BMI of 35-39.9 — a category that is labeled grade 2 obesity — struggle with the same condition.

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on the knees, decrease joint inflammation, and lower the risk for certain diseases. It can also prevent chronic pain.

For people who are considered overweight, each pound lost can reduce the load on their knee joints by four. That means that losing a manageable five pounds can result in 20 pounds less weight in each step.

It’s important to remember that any weight management should happen gradually. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a reasonable time period to drop 10% of your body weight is six months. Think about how long it takes chronic pain to build up. It’s not going to disappear overnight, which is why a measured approach to weight loss is wisest.

How to work toward that? A combination of diet and exercise.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. If that seems like a lot, remember that it’s a goal — not a necessity. Focus on activities you can enjoy, and try to stick to a schedule at the same time each day.

If you’re worried about injury or intimidated by self-structuring, talking to a specialist like a physical therapist can help. They can help ease you into exercise using the appropriate movements so that you’re not putting yourself at greater risk for a new injury or aggravating an existing one.

Working with a nutritionist is an excellent complement to easing into exercise. They can help you target foods that align with your basic metabolic caloric intake and will give you the proper balance of vitamins and minerals. They may recommend an anti-inflammatory diet, which has been shown to have success in reducing chronic pain in certain environments.

One excellent way to learn about weight management and dealing with chronic pain is by attending Structure House’s Injury Management and Prevention Week from November 6-13. We’ll guide you through ways to manage existing injuries and prevent new ones, with special classes dedicated to keeping your knees, hips, lower back, and shoulders healthy.

You’ll hear from our fitness director, Katie Krasinski, along with many of the other esteemed members of our staff, and you can pick their brains to identify the most effective ways of maintaining a healthy weight.

Want to learn more about Injury Management and Prevention Week? Contact us here and follow us on social media!

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