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Obesity and Chronic Pain: Systematic Review of Prevalence and Implications for Pain Practice
  1. Samer Narouze, MD, PhD and
  2. Dmitri Souzdalnitski, MD, PhD
  1. From the Center for Pain Management, Western Reserve Hospital, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  1. Address correspondence to: Samer Narouze, MD, PhD, Western Reserve Hospital, 1900 23RD Street, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44233 (e-mail: narouzs{at}


Abstract The combination of obesity and pain may worsen a patient’s functional status and quality of life more than each condition in isolation. We systematically searched PubMed/MEDLINE and the Cochrane databases for all reports published on obesity and pain. The prevalence of combined obesity and pain was substantial. Good evidence shows that weight reduction can alleviate pain and diminish pain-related functional impairment. However, inadequate pain control can be a barrier to effective lifestyle modification and rehabilitation. This article examines specific pain management approaches for obese patients and reviews novel interventional techniques for treatment of obesity. The infrastructure for simultaneous treatment of obesity and pain already exists in pain medicine (eg, patient education, behavioral medicine approaches, physical rehabilitation, medications, and interventional treatment). Screening for obesity, pain-related disability, and behavioral disorders as well as monitoring of functional performance should become routine in pain medicine practices. Such an approach requires additional physician and staff training. Further research should focus on better understanding the interplay between these 2 very common conditions and the development of effective treatment strategies.

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.