How Chronic Pain Creates Weight Loss Struggles
Acute pain shifts into the chronic pain category when it is experienced for more than 12 consecutive weeks, according to the National Institutes of Health. Recently Bryanne Salazar wrote a piece regarding chronic pain and weight loss, in which she described her personal struggle with pain. Bryanne covered four basic elements of her recovery strategy that she found effective: exercise, stress management, and awareness of muscle engagement.
Chronic pain and weight gain often exist in conjunction: a 2010 report in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a significant correlation between the two health conditions, particularly among women.
Bryanne’s pain and weight loss struggle
Let’s look at each of the four components of Bryanne’s pain-alleviation strategy:
Sadly, Bryanne has been experiencing chronic pain for many years, due to a degenerative muscular condition. It has been difficult for her to exercise due to lack of energy, and the inactivity has resulted in weight gain – which, as stated above, contributes to further pain. Beyond reducing weight, exercise has also been shown in research to help alleviate pain in many individuals, as indicated by Harvard Medical School.
As Bryanne notes, the central workout challenge for those with chronic pain isn’t understanding that it will ultimately be helpful. Rather, it is in believing strongly enough in the power of exercise to fight pain and weight gain so that the initial discomfort of exercise doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Stress often accompanies chronic pain, which exacerbates the issue. Bryanne mentions that a familiar aspect of her chronic pain and weight loss conditions is a sense of stronger pain when stress levels are high. A study by Arthritis & Rheumatology found that cortisol, a stress hormone secreted by one’s adrenal glands, increases the amount of pain experienced by patients with fibromyalgia (which is especially true of women during the first hour after waking). It appears, then, that managing stress can help to reduce pain.
Finally, an important lesson garnered by Bryanne during her pain and weight loss struggle is that pain often results from strength imbalances in the muscles. Pain caused by overexertion can be alleviated by working out supporting muscles and relaxing those that have been excessively engaged.
The connection between pain and weight is also a medical issue. As Bryanne recommends, the at-home, DIY techniques listed above should only be used in conjunction with a treatment program from a pain management practice. Exercise is not always a safe solution for pain conditions, and a medical team can help determine the best strategies for your situation.
At Health Star Clinic, we provide medical pain management programs that are responsible, safe, and effective. Get your free consultation today.