In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Is It Easier to Lose Weight After Reducing Chronic Pain?

person standing on a scale

We have known for a while now that there are links between chronic pain and obesity. Many people who are obese tend to experience chronic pain, and those who have chronic pain may experience more obesity. The two conditions can influence each other, so researchers set out to determine if obese patients could successfully lose weight once they had chronic pain relief.

The results of their study were published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of Pain Research [1]. The study investigated whether or not patients who are obese and have chronic pain will lose weight once the pain is diminished. The researchers used data from obese patients who were in the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation. 

The 224 patients, all of whom met the 30 and over BMI requirement, were all assessed for such information as weight, height, pain intensity, how physically active they were, the amount of psychological distress they had, and how their health-related quality of life was. The assessment was taken before they received pain relief treatment, as well as at the 12-month follow-up.

Like what you’re learning?  Download a brochure for our online, postgraduate pain medicine certificate or master’s degree program in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Participants in the study were all given interdisciplinary multimodal pain rehabilitation (IMMPR). Once they received the treatment, they were split into three groups, based on the level of their pain after receiving the treatment. The groups included those who had at least a 30% reduction in pain, those with less than 30% reduction in pain, and those who reported that they had no pain relief at all.

The researchers report that the pain reduction following IMMPR was significant. When it came to weight loss, they considered at least a 5% reduction in weight to be significant. They found that there were a significant number of patients in the three groups who met the criteria for losing a significant amount of weight. There were also a lot of improvements in the other areas that were assessed, including being physically active and psychological distress.

Overall, they report that one out of every five patients in the study experienced what they considered a significant weight loss after they had IMMPR. This is promising news for those who are obese and experience chronic pain. Being able to reduce the pain intensity may help people successfully achieve a significant amount of weight loss. Those working with chronic pain patients who are obese will want to consider this in managing their care.

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


  1. Journal of Pain Research. Lose Pain, Lose Weight, Lose Both: A Cohort Study of Patients with Chronic Pain and Obesity. June 2021. 
The information and resources contained on this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical and/or mental health disease or condition. The use of this website does not imply nor establish any type of provider-client relationship. Furthermore, the information obtained from this site should not be considered a substitute for a thorough medical and/or mental health evaluation by an appropriately credentialed and licensed professional. Commercial supporters are not involved in the content development or editorial process.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This