Joint Pain and Obesity


Our joints carry the weight of our body. The heavier we are the more difficult it is for our joints to work effectively. More than 40 percent of American adults are classified as obese. Even a few pounds of extra weight make a difference in our joints. The joint force in the hips and knees increases at least three fold with everyday walking. For instance that means if you carry even five pounds of extra body weight your hips and knees feel that as an extra 15 pounds.


The chance of developing arthritis increases with obesity. Although there are exceptions, those with a high body mass index are more likely to develop arthritis at a younger age. The need for a joint replacement at a younger age sets up the patient for a possible revision arthroplasty as they age. Joint replacement and subsequent recovery may take longer in obese patients.


Losing weight will not reverse the amount of osteoarthritis that has already occurred. The goal after the diagnosis of osteoarthritis would be to lose weight in order to decrease joint pain and abort future rapid cartilage loss. Weight loss is possible even if the joints are arthritic. Low impact activities such as walking on a treadmill, biking and swimming are examples of exercise. Weight loss is not an easy task to take on, but the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle will be well worth the work.

– Lynne Kline, CRNP


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