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Study Links Obesity to Greater Pain, Weakness in Fibromyalgia Patients
Date:1/6/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Obese fibromyalgia patients suffer more severe symptoms such as pain, reduced flexibility and sleep disturbances than those of normal weight, a new study indicates.

But the good news is that losing weight may bring a modicum of relief, other research suggests.

Noting that pain issues are common in obese people, researchers from the University of Utah analyzed 215 patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal pain disorder afflicting between 3 percent and 5 percent of Americans, most of them women.

Nearly half of the study participants were obese, and another 30 percent were overweight, with the obese patients experiencing much greater pain to the touch in lower body areas, according to the research. One of the cardinal features of fibromyalgia is extreme pain upon palpation of at least 11 of 18 so-called tender points across the body.

The obese fibromyalgia patients were also more likely than the other study participants to have reduced physical strength, less flexibility in the lower body, a shorter sleeptime and greater restlessness when they did sleep, the study found.

Study author Akiko Okifuji, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Utah's Pain Research and Management Center, said several effects of obesity on the body may heighten fibromyalgia pain, including increased loading on joints and bones.

"Both fibromyalgia and obesity are clearly big public health concerns. Both conditions seriously impact quality of life," Okifuji said. "It's very difficult to do effective weight management.if you have fibromyalgia. Clearly, if you can do effective weight management, it's better for your overall health."

Obesity is quite common among those with fibromyalgia, with previous research reporting that up to 50 percent of patients are obese and another 21 percent to 28 percent are overweight.

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