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Why Weight Management for Osteoarthritis is so Important

Patient learns how weight management helps his osteoarthritisOsteoarthritis (OA) is a painful and all too common form of arthritis. However, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be exacerbated if you are overweight. If you live with this medical condition, it’s important to understand why weight management for osteoarthritis is so important. 

Today, you’ll learn just how vital maintaining a healthy weight is when it comes to your osteoarthritis pain. An added bonus is that it’s great for your overall health too!

Link Between Being Overweight and Osteoarthritis

The Institute of Medicine has found that more than 61 million American adults (nearly 20 percent) suffer from knee pain. An even more staggering statistic is that over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The definitions of the two are:

  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9 Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Obese: 30 or higher Body Mass Index (BMI)

Those extra pounds increase the stress on your knees. Osteoarthritis is one of the many complications that can result from this stress. This means that if you lose weight, your knee OA symptoms will improve greatly.

A dose-response relationship was found in regard to weight loss and symptom improvement in a community-based study. When weight was reduced by over 10%, there was a greater improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms than when only 2.5% to 5% of body weight was lost.

How Weight Loss Affects Osteoarthritis

There are actually two different ways that weight loss benefits knee pain. They are:

  1. As mentioned before, weight loss decreases the amount of weight-bearing pressure on your knees. In fact, for every one pound of weight you lose, your knee-joint load is actually reduced by a full four pounds. So each pound brings a lot of reward! This decreased pressure means less wear and tear on your knee joints. This substantially lowers your risk of osteoarthritis.
  2. Getting your body to a healthy weight also reduces inflammation in the body. Osteoarthritis research has established that inflammation is a major risk factor– not just a consequence of this degenerative disease. Before these developments, people thought that the inflammation happened because of the wear on the joints. But it’s actually its own separate risk factor. One study found that overeating triggers the body’s immune response. This response increases inflammation. Similarly, losing weight can reduce the inflammatory response.

Losing weight is often easier said than done, but don’t be discouraged. A different study found that even a 10% reduction in weight can work wonders for decreasing inflammation.

The Link Between Osteoarthritis and Weight Gain

The link between osteoarthritis and being overweight/obese is a strong one. Unneeded extra pounds increase inflammation and stress on the joints– both of which increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis. For women, being overweight makes you four times more likely to develop osteoarthritis than if you have a healthy body weight. For men, it makes you five times more likely to develop OA than if you have a healthy body weight.

Osteoarthritis patient learns about weight management best practices

These statistics might scare you if you are overweight or obese. But don’t get overwhelmed! Clinical studies show that even a moderate amount of weight loss can improve osteoarthritis symptoms.

For women who are overweight, every 11 pounds of weight loss can reduce their knee OA risk by a whopping 50%. For men who are obese, dropping into the overweight category can reduce their osteoarthritis risk by 21.5%. This is why weight management for osteoarthritis is so important!

How to Get Started

Getting your body weight to a healthy point has more benefits than just lowering your risk of OA. It also reduces your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer

It can definitely be daunting to lose weight, but the benefits are worth the effort.

Start by eating healthily. Add more vegetables into your diet and decrease portion sizes. Plan ahead and pack healthy lunches and snacks, so you’re less susceptible to the many unhealthy temptations that are readily available.

Exercise is also key! Here are a few things you can try:

  • Go for a walk after dinner
  • Try swimming or water aerobics
  • Get a pedometer and track your steps
  • Start a living a healthier life!

As always, talk with your doctor about your weight loss plan. Staying overweight or obese can be lead to severe complications, but losing weight too quickly can also be dangerous.

By taking a strategic approach to weight management for osteoarthritis,  Your OA symptoms can be managed effectively over the long run.

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