Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain, Suggests Study

Date:
March 1, 2006
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Obese people may be more sensitive to pain than people who aren't obese, a new study suggests. All of the older adults who completed the study had osteoarthritis of the knee, a disease that causes inflammation and extreme pain in the knees. Participants were given a mild electrical stimulation on their left ankle to measure their pain reflex.

Obese people may be more sensitive to pain than people who aren't obese, a new study suggests.

Related Articles


All of the older adults who completed the study had osteoarthritis of the knee, a disease that causes inflammation and extreme pain in the knees.

Participants were given a mild electrical stimulation on their left ankle to measure their pain reflex. The stimulus was given before and after the participants took part in a 45-minute coping skills training session that included a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.

The obese patients showed a greater physical response to the electrical stimulation than did the non-obese people, both before and after the training session. This indicates they had a lower tolerance for the painful stimulation despite reporting, in questionnaires, that they felt no more pain than non-obese people.

“The relaxation procedure helped both groups cope with pain,” said Charles Emery, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “Additionally, our tests showed both groups had higher physical pain thresholds after the relaxation session. But the obese participants still had a lower threshold for tolerating the pain.”

Emery and his colleagues presented their findings on March 4 in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

The researchers wanted to see if coping skills training, including progressive relaxation techniques would help people with osteoarthritis to better cope with the pain that the disease can cause. Also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis affects more than 20 million people in the United States.

But they were particularly interested in seeing how the obese group responded to pain; according to Emery, a small number of studies have looked at pain sensitivity in obese people, but many of these studies report conflicting results.

“Some studies say that obese people are more tolerant of pain, while other studies say they are less tolerant,” Emery said.

About a third of the study's 62 participants were obese. Researchers determined who was obese based on participants' body mass index (BMI) scores, which relates height to weight. Obese patients in this study had a BMI greater than 30 but less than 35. (Scores higher than 35 are considered morbidly obese.)

The participants underwent two rounds of electrical stimulation – once before, and once after a 45-minute training session where they learned different ways of coping with pain, including instruction in progressive muscle relaxation therapy.

The electrical stimulation came from an iPod-sized device that delivered a slight electrical shock to a patient's sural nerve, a nerve that extends along the ankle and into the calf. This kind of electrical stimulation causes sensations of tingling and mild pain in the lower leg.

The researchers determined the body's response to sural nerve stimulation by measuring the reflex of the lower leg muscles that surround the sural nerve. When the brain senses pain, it sends a message to the body to contract and move the muscles in order to get away from the source of the pain.

“This kind of evaluation is in some ways a more objective way of measuring the body's response to pain, as opposed to simply asking someone if they feel pain,” Emery said.

But the researchers did ask participants how much pain they felt. Participants completed questionnaires about anxiety and pain perception after each round of electrical stimulations. All participants, obese or not, reported that they felt less pain after the relaxation session than they did before.

Yet results of the sural nerve stimulus test showed that the obese participants did not tolerate the painful stimulus as well as the non-obese individuals.

“Our findings show the importance of looking at objective as well as subjective measurements of how the body responds to pain stimuli,” Emery said.

Emery conducted the study with colleagues from Ohio State, Ohio and Duke universities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain, Suggests Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060301093503.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2006, March 1). Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain, Suggests Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060301093503.htm
Ohio State University. "Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain, Suggests Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060301093503.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Although she never had much interest in prosthetic limbs before, Faith Lennox couldn&apos;t wait to slip on her new robohand. The 7-year-old, who lost part of her left arm when she was a baby, grabbed it as soon as it came off a 3-D printer. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins