Does Higher Body Fat Lead to Musculoskeletal Pain?

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Does Higher Body Fat Lead to Musculoskeletal Pain?

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis enlightens the connection between increased body fat and widespread musculoskeletal pain. As per the analysis, it is not body weight but the body fat which is associated strongly with pain occurrence. A total of seven electronic databases (Web of Science, PubMed, CINAHL, Medline, Scopus, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) till 8th Jan 2018.  Overall, 10,221 citations were found through search. Out of which only 28 unique articles were selected after evaluating the abstract and full-text review.  The longitudinal and cross-sectional studies involved the association between musculoskeletal pain and body fat. The methodological rigour of articles was assessed via Epidemiology Appraisal Instrument. The Standardised mean differences (SMDs) and effect estimates were also evaluated for meta-analyses.

A total of fourteen studies which exhibited significant cross-sectional relationship (SMD 0.49) of widespread pain with total body fat mass were involved in the meta-analyses (p < 0.001). Higher body fat percentage was seen among persons having knee (SMD 0.18) and low back pain (SMD 0.34). Foot pain also showed a weak (SMD 0.05) but significant relationship with fat mass index (p < 0.001). A total of 8 longitudinal studies assessed were unsuitable for meta-analyses but provide considerable evidence of high body fat relations with increased and worse joint pain risk. The evidence found of low back pain and body fat associations in the follow up of 4 to 20 years were showed specific conflicts. However, the positive relationship was seen in body fat percentage and fat mass index with increased foot and knee pain incidences. The variable methodological quality of involved studies was evaluated through EAI grade as 'yes' for each study ranged from 23 to 85%.

The single-site and widespread foot, knee and low back joint pain shows a positive correlation with increased body fat. As per results, raised body fat relates with elevated worsening of pain. More high-quality studies are needed for further evaluation.


BMC Musculoskelet Disord     


The original title of article:

The association between body fat and musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.


Tom P. Walsh et al.

Exploratory, Musculoskeletal Pain, Foot, Spine, Knee, Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, SMD
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