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You think obesity only damages legs? Think again – shoulders are suffering too

Obesity is linked to many different health problems, some of them are related to bones and joints. When you think about obese person, you automatically imagine his legs suffering greatly from all the weight they have to carry. However, did you know that obesity causes problems with upper limbs as well?

Obesity is linked to upper limb problems. Image credit: Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists from the University of Helsinki conducted a study and found that obesity is linked to upper limb pain and upper extremity soft tissue disorders. Tendon disorders in upper limbs can cause extreme pain and disability to a degree. Scientists are not sure about the causes of these conditions, but now they have a clue. Researchers from the University of Helsinki say that obesity and diabetes can be linked to the prevalence of tendon disorders in the upper limbs.

Scientists performed experiments with animals and some tests with human tissue.  They found evidence of inflammation in tendons, suggesting that pro-inflammatory cytokines play a role in upper extremity soft tissue disorders. But then scientists started thinking – maybe fatty tissue is somehow involved in it? After all, it is secreting cytokines and adipokines, which have not been studies that much. Of course, obesity plays a major role in determining levels of cytokines and adipokines, but do obese people have more problems with upper limbs than usual?

16% of Finns of working age in the survey reported shoulder pain during the past 30 days – that is quite a significant number. The usual reasons of the pain were chronic rotator cuff syndrome, rotator cuff tendinitis and lateral epicondylitis. Thankfully, a third of the patients reported a full or at least partial recovery after three months. Scientists compared this data with such characteristics as BMI, waist circumference and type 2 diabetes, and found that they can be linked to shoulder pain. Martti Rechardt, author of the study, said that “the mechanisms underlying this association are currently not fully understood. The cytokines circulating in the blood of an obese person may render the patient more sensitive to pain and promote inflammation in the tendon structures”.

Typically people think that obesity causes problems for lower limbs only – they have to bare the weight. But obesity causes so many problems for entire body that it is not nearly as local as people imagine. Not all effects of obesity are well understood and people should remember that some problems emerge only over the course of several decades.

 

Source: University of Helsinki

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