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November 6, 2017 | Orthopedics
The knee joints carry an enormous burden as we perform basic movements like walking or climbing stairs, and this burden is increased for people who are overweight. This extra stress from weight can put you at a higher risk for osteoarthritis (OA), the “wear-and-tear” form of arthritis.
As obesity rates in the country soar, 27 million Americans now have OA, per the Arthritis Foundation. But even a small weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds can make a great difference for knee OA pain and can postpone or even prevent the need for joint replacement surgery. Because there is no medication that stops OA after it has started, diet and exercise are vital.
Body Weight, Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis
Even just 10 pounds of excess body weight increases the force on the knee by 30 to 60 pounds with every single step, a huge increase when multiplied by thousands of steps per day. A force of nearly three to six times your body weight is exerted across the knee when you walk.
Being overweight has been associated with higher rates of OA. Overweight women have nearly four times the risk of developing OA, and overweight men have five times the risk. This data has been confirmed across numerous population-based studies.
Weight Loss Benefits
Even moderate weight loss can make a big difference in your pain levels, and can help delay the progression of OA in many cases. Specific benefits from this kind of weight loss may include:
Losing Weight Effectively
Many people struggle to stick to weight loss plans, and the ability to get more people on them could significantly reduce the need for total knee replacement surgery. Here are a few general tips:
If you’re dealing with osteoarthritis pain in your knees, speak to your doctor about how weight loss might benefit your situation.
“Weight Loss Strategies to Help Ease Osteoarthritis Pain.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/features/weight-loss#1
“Role of Body Weight in Osteoarthritis.” Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/role-of-body-weight-in-osteoarthritis/
Michael Carlson, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.