The effect of obesity on pain severity and pain interference

Pain Manag. 2021 Sep;11(5):571-581. doi: 10.2217/pmt-2020-0089. Epub 2021 Jun 9.


Aim: Obesity is one of the most prevalent comorbidities associated with chronic pain, which can severely interfere with daily living and increase utilization of clinical resources. We hypothesized that a higher level of obesity, measured by BMI, would be associated with increased pain severity (intensity) and interference (pain related disability). Materials & methods: Participant data was pulled from a multisite chronic pain outpatient database and categorized based on BMI. Results: A total of 2509 patients were included in the study. We found significant differences between BMI groups for all pain severity scores (worst, least, average, current) and total pain interference score. Obese patients had significantly higher scores than normal weight patients. Conclusion: We found obesity to be associated with increased pain severity and pain interference.

Keywords: chronic pain; obesity; outcome assessment; pain management; pain medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / complications
  • Chronic Pain* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity* / complications
  • Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement