The Link Between Obesity and Knee Osteoarthritis

The Link Between Obesity and Knee Osteoarthritis 645d53bfa1c21.png

The Link Between Obesity and Knee Osteoarthritis

The Center for Disease Control estimates that at least 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese. They define being overweight in most cases based on Body Mass Index or BMI, which is 30 or greater.

The CDC also found that more than 1 out of 3 obese people will get arthritis in their lifetime. In fact, obese men and women are five times more likely to develop arthritis- and are at a much higher risk of osteoarthritis in the knees.

The most logical explanation for an increase in osteoarthritis in obese men and women is the extra force that the weight puts on the joints. This excess weight on the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of the bones in the joints, wears down over time. That wear and tear, plus the added weight puts more pressure and stress on the joints and often results in osteoarthritis.

According to a study titled “Weight and Osteoarthritis” published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers analyzed data and were able to estimate that a force of nearly three to six times a person’s body weight is exerted across the knee when walking. So it makes sense that an overweight or obese person’s extra weight would put an excessive amount of pressure on the knees, thus increasing the risk for osteoarthritis. However, this harmful pressure load on the knees is not just connected to those that are very overweight. In fact, according to research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, even just 10 extra pounds of excess weight can increase the force on the knees by 30-60 pounds!

Another factor when it comes to the link between overweight or obese and having knee osteoarthritis is evidence that suggests that the extra body fat leads to more inflammation. Though the research on this is ongoing, early reports indicate the discovery that fat cells create and release chemicals that may cause inflammation in the knees and other joints as well. These chemicals, called cytokines can cause inflammation in and around the joints, which can add to joint damage and pain.

Studies have also found that certain medications used to treat inflammatory arthritis, may not be as effective in people that are overweight or obese.

We all know that one of the best ways to lose weight is through diet and exercise. However, what if your joints hurt too much to exercise? Or what if the medications you are taking for arthritic pain are contributing to your weight gain?

In our next article, we will take a look at some ways to lose weight, that are safe and effective for those that are overweight, and struggling with osteoarthritic knee pain.

By getting your weight under control, the body will work better, heal faster, and be more receptive to the treatment of osteoarthritis itself. Even losing a little weight can have a hugely positive impact on your physical and mental health.

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