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Clinical Journal of Pain:
doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000017
Original Articles

Musculoskeletal Pain in Obese Compared With Healthy-Weight Children

Tsiros, Margarita D. PhD*; Buckley, Jonathan D. PhD*; Howe, Peter R. C. PhD*; Walkley, Jeff PhD; Hills, Andrew P. PhD; Coates, Alison M. PhD*

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Objectives: To investigate whether obesity is associated with musculoskeletal pain in children.

Materials and Methods: Obese (n=107) and healthy-weight (n=132) 10- to 13-year-old children (132 males, 107 females) participated in an observational case-control study. Children self-reported pain location (excluding abdominal pain), pain intensity (current and prior week), and pain prevalence (overall and lower limb) using the Pediatric Pain Questionnaire. Body composition was assessed (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) and children wore an accelerometer for 8 days.

Results: After adjustment for accelerometry (weekly average counts per hour) and socioeconomic status, obese children had more intense pain (worst pain, P=0.006), pain in more locations (P≤0.005), and a higher prevalence of lower limb pain (60% vs. 52% respectively, P=0.012) than healthy-weight children. Significant relationships were observed between body mass index and total pain locations (P≤0.004, unadjusted and adjusted) and worst pain intensity (P≤0.009, adjusted for socioeconomic status/accelerometry). There were no significant relationships between percent body fat and pain variables (unadjusted/adjusted analyses, P=0.262 to 1.0).

Discussion: Obesity in children was associated with increased overall and lower limb musculoskeletal pain, for which body mass index was a stronger predictor than adiposity. Clinicians treating obese children should screen for pain and prescribe exercise programs that take their symptoms into account.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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