Is losing weight one of your New Year’s resolutions? Are you starting to flag on it? Well, if so, consider this incentive: patients who lost weight were able to see their pain reduce in many joints throughout the body, not just the joints that have to bear the weight. This means not only that weight loss is an effective way to help manage chronic pain, but also that the link between obesity and pain is probably a lot more complicated than we thought.
Patients Undergoing Weight Management
This study looked at 123 volunteers at the Weight Management Program at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan. These patients were tracked over a 12-week control period, as they went through the stages of a doctor-supervised low-calorie liquid supplement meal replacement. Over this period, at least 99% lost 10% or more of their weight.
At the end of the study, patients reported that they felt dramatically improved from when they started treatment. Pain in all areas of the body was reduced, including the jaw, arms, and torso.
A New Link between Pain and Obesity
We have long known that people with obesity experience more chronic pain than normal weight individuals. However, we haven’t known why. It was assumed that the pain was a result of the additional stresses on the joints, muscles, and tendons caused by the additional weight.
But this new data tells us that the link might be a lot more complicated than that. Not only did we see the pain reduction in many part of the body that would not be impacted by the stress of weight, but there were other markers of improved condition.
Most importantly, researchers found that after weight loss, volunteers had a dramatic increase in the anti-inflammatory molecule called interleukin-10. This molecule has been linked to inflammation and related pain. Interleukin 10 is an anti-inflammatory compound, serving to downregulate swelling and pain in an area of injury..
Researchers speculate that this points to a more complex link between obesity and pain. They think now that the relationship might be more related to the central nervous system, rather than being caused exclusively by trauma or stress on the tissues that have to bear the additional weight.
If Jaw Pain Persists
Jaw pain is a complex condition, and it may or may not be related to other chronic pain conditions. If you have TMJ, then you’re usually more likely to develop other pain conditions such as migraines, IBS, and fibromyalgia. Treating TMJ may reduce your risk of these conditions, so if weight loss doesn’t improve your jaw pain, maybe it’s time to talk to a TMJ dentist.
For help with TMJ in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.