Obesity Compounds Pain in Fibromyalgia

As blogged before, overweight and obese patients frequently present with fibromyalgia, characterized by chronic pain, fatigue and depressed mood.

A paper by Akiko Okifuji from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, just published in the Journal of Pain, examines the relationship between fibromyalgia and obesity in pain, function, mood, and sleep.

The study examines the impact of obesity on hyperalgesia, symptoms, physical abilities, and sleep in 215 fibromyalgia patients, who also underwent tender point examination, physical performance testing, and 7-day home sleep assessment.

Almost 50% of participants were obese and an additional 30% were overweight.

Obesity was positively related to greater tender point sensitivity, reduced physical strength and lower-body flexibility, shorter sleep duration, and greater restlessness during sleep.

The results confirmed that obesity is a prevalent comorbidity of fibromyalgia and the authors suggest that weight management may need to be incorporated into treatments.

In the paper, Okifuji and colleagues also discuss several potential mechanisms linking obesity to fibromyalgia including alterations in the endogenous opioid system, the endocrine system, and systemic inflammation, whereby adipose-tissue derived cytokines may enhance central sensitization.

Clinicians should be aware of the relationship between excess weight and fibromyalgia, which can often pose an important contributor to weight gain and a major barrier to weight management.

Edmonton, Alberta

Okifuji A, Donaldson GW, Barck L, & Fine PG (2010). Relationship Between Fibromyalgia and Obesity in Pain, Function, Mood, and Sleep. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society PMID: 20542742