The Link Between Obesity and Pain in Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia and obesity

Being obese can actually worsen the pain that you feel as a result of fibromyalgia. In addition, the excess weight in your body can exacerbate other symptoms. In fact, if you are obese or overweight, the pain can increase quite significantly. The reason may be because you are not physically strong and your body is strained by the excess weight. Being overweight can also make you more susceptible to sleep problems and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. All these can worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

The Link Between Obesity and Pain

According to some health experts, the link between pain and obesity is strong. They believe that obesity can intensify the severity of symptoms and increase pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients. This is also the same for those who have other chronic pain illnesses like osteoarthritis.

Basically, the heavier you are, the more pain that you will feel. According to a study, overweight people can have 20 percent more pain as compared to healthy individuals. On the other hand, those who are obese can have almost 70 percent more pain.

Excess Weight Put Pressure on Joints

Part of the explanation behind increased pain is overloaded joints. The more weight your body has, the more it will trigger strain and pressure on your joints. This is most especially applicable on the lower part of your body. Thus, the strain in your joint will negatively influence the level of pain your body feels.


In one study, medical professionals investigated the effects of excess weight on fibromyalgia pain. 215 fibromyalgia participants who are suffering from its painful symptoms participated in this study. It was found that those who have more weight have heightened sensitivity in pain. Such sensitivity is often more intense on the lower part of the body. They have also observed similar effects on people who are overweight.

Sleep, Pain and Obesity

Studies also show that those who are obese and have fibromyalgia will experience more sleep problems than those with healthy weight. This is what contributes to more pain in the body.

The link between poor sleep and pain in fibromyalgia patients has been shown to appear both ways. Firstly, poor sleep can create more pain in patients. In one study, women who have enough sleep showed significant decrease in pain due to fibromyalgia. Those who have poor sleep have otherwise suffered more pain.

Secondly, not having enough sleep can also reduce a person’s ability to deal with pain. This also makes it more difficult for them to focus on certain things and in doing some activities. It is encouraging to know that exercising and losing weight can help in managing the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia.

6 Comments

  • As an overweight obsese woman it explains alot about depression and anixty you are in so much pain you cant or dont even want to go for a walk.

  • Really appreciate these articles about fibromyalgia. For a disease that hurts so bad, it has always bothered me that there was no proven way to know you had it other than pressure points. I read the article about the blood test now being a proven way to know for sure it is truly fibro that you are dealing with. Thankful for all the research being done!

  • As if the physiological pain of FMS weren’t bad enough, researchers never quite follow through their investigations using creative ways of joining the dots.

    To me, it is quite obvious that pain would be increased in the obese patient, but where the research falls short, is in understanding the connection between the embodied trauma from abuse and or other ‘shock’ reactions to the system.

    I would hope that someone somewhere is looking outside the box. It is quite true, obesity does equal more pain. What isn’t true is that the answer is simply change your diet, get more exercise and then you will be in less pain.

    The complexities are multi layered and faceted with somatised trauma at the core. Until this is investigated the obese patients and clients we have, need to understand that articles such as this are only the findings of one aspect of many possible avenues which could be investigated.

    Being obese IS a painful world to inhabit. To suggest it is the cause of a painfilled body of Fibromyalgia, is short sighted and ultimately inaccurate.

    • Felicity,
      Thank you for your comment.
      We would like to clarify that the article does not suggest, or aim to suggest that being obese is the cause of painfilled body in fibromyalgia. If the article was misleading, we apologize.

      The gist of the article is that being overweight or obese can increase severity of symptoms and worsen pain in fibromyalgia. Yes, for the obvious reason that the extra weight you carry put strain and pressure in your lower body. In addition, the other common medical conditions that an overweight fibromyalgia patient faces, such as high blood pressure, breathing problems, sleep apnea, can add to more pain.

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