Can Losing Excess Weight Reduce Chronic Pain?
Although it is often difficult, people with chronic pain should remain as active as possible. Inactivity can make chronic pain worse. Physical inactivity for an extended period weakens and deconditions the muscles. Also, inactivity results in weight gain which is a major factor in a number of chronic conditions.
Carrying excess weight creates extra pressure on the spine which prevents it from properly absorbing the impact of bodily movement. Individuals that carry excess weight are at a higher risk for herniated discs, sciatica and spinal arthritis.
Losing excess weight can decrease pain-causing inflammatory responses of the body. It often reduces chronic pain symptoms and decreases the risk of various health conditions. Losing belly fat and strengthening core muscles helps the spine support body weight which increases mobility.
Health care professionals recommend that individuals with chronic pain and excess weight follow a regular exercise program and proper diet to lose weight and reduce their chronic pain.
Exercise not only aids in weight loss, it also improves range of motion, mobility and mood. It increases blood flow which improves the distribution of nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body, especially to the soft tissues in and around the spine. Regular exercise also keeps the ligaments, muscles, joints and discs in the back healthy.
Some gentle exercises that can be included in a successful weight loss program are low-impact exercises, such as water therapy or walking. Water exercises are gentle on individuals with chronic pain who are carrying excess weight because the buoyancy in the water neutralizes the weight of the body. Exercising in water allows for free movement making it easier for individuals to perform strengthening exercises without injuring themselves. Water exercises are also very effective for people who suffer from a painful joint condition like osteoarthritis.
Other gentle exercises include yoga, low-impact cardio and strength training. Even doing small tasks around the house, such as dusting and sweeping, helps keep the body active, lose weight and manage pain.
Before starting any weight loss program, consulting a health care provider is essential.