Treating Pain with Weight Loss

Woman suffering from back ache at outdoor workout. Overweight harm for spine. 

By a show of hands, how many of you have never experienced pain?   I do not see any hands raised.  We all have experienced pain at times.  Referring to the physical side, back pain, headaches, joint pains, abdominal pains and virtually every other part of our bodies can be a source of pain.  On the emotional side, grieving the loss of loved ones, relationship issues and other life events may trigger lots of non-physical pain.

First, focusing on physical pain:  The treatment of pain usually involves finding the cause and then starting the type of treatment that has the least potential side effects and most potential benefits.  For minor aches and pains, there is no need for doctor visits and major workups:  Reaching for an OTC Tylenol, Advil or Aleve can provide the “cure”.  However, when the pain is much more substantial and does not have an obvious cause, a visit to a medical professional seems quite prudent.

Once the medical workup is performed to identify the cause of the pain, then the best treatment plan can be initiated.  Clearly, that treatment plan should subject the affected person to the least potential long-term side effects.  Non steroidal anti-inflammatory  medications and nerve modulating medications are much less dangerous than using long-term opiates.   Physical therapy and chiropractor manipulations may also be far less dangerous than using prescription medications.

For pain involving the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet, one of the very best interventions for pain relief is weight loss.  The physics of weight and joint pressure:  Because weight cones done from a higher surface area to lower surface areas, for every pound that lost, there are 4 pounds of pressure taken off of the weight bearing joints.  Therefore, losing 25 pounds results in 100 pounds of pressure off of those hips, knees and feet.  For anyone out there rehabbing from hip or knee replacement, weight loss can be an incredibly powerful factor in a more speedy recovery.

If you are experiencing pain that is more than “minor” and impacting your life, visit with your doctor to explore what can be done to help alleviate/eliminate the pain.  If the current approach you are taking (medications, physical therapy, etc) is not working well, keep an open mind to medical marijuana.  I have certified many hundreds of people for the Virginia medical marijuana program, and I am astounded to see just how impactful this treatment can be to help pain when mainstream medical approaches have failed.

Pain sucks.  It can ruin lives.   Please make sure that if pain is adversely impacting your life that you have explored all options available to you.