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 When a fish becomes fluid
17.12.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

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: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists found a correlation between the structure and magnetic properties of ceramics

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Unique insights into an exotic matter state

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Physicists studied the influence of magnetic field on thin film structures

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>