Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Obese people are more sensitive to pain, suggests study

02.03.2006


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. 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.

Charles Emery | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psy.ohio-state.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>