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Why Weight Matters When It Comes to Joint Pain

Why Weight Matters When It Comes to Joint Pain

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly three-quarters of all Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese, and these extra pounds increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease and an increasing threat to mobility as you get older. 

If you’re experiencing joint pain and you’re overweight, the two conditions may be closely connected. The good news is that the connection also works to help relieve pain. As you work toward the solution to your joint pain, look to Joint Regeneration of Lake Oconee to help you manage the pain, so you can accomplish your weight loss goals. 

Causes of joint pain

While common, osteoarthritis isn’t the only cause of joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of the disease, and joint pain can also stem from many other factors including injuries, mechanical problems with your body, fibromyalgia, bursitis, and tendinitis. 

As well as these contributors, carrying extra weight is recognized as a preventable risk factor for osteoarthritis, and therefore also joint pain. Understanding the way joints handle body weight makes it clear why losing weight is such an important part of joint maintenance. 

The forces of movement

Let’s consider the knees. With each step you take, your knees bear a force equal to 1.5 times your body weight. If you’re 160 lbs, your knees handle 240 lbs. of force with each step. When you climb stairs, that force is 2 to 3 times your body weight. 

When you lose 10 lbs., the walking force on your knees drops to 225, or 15 lbs. less force. That force reduction is crucial. According to a study on obesity and osteoarthritis, a 10 lb. weight loss can reduce the progress of osteoarthritis by 50%. Sustaining a 10 to 15 lb. weight loss when you’re young dramatically reduces your risk of developing osteoarthritis. 

Progressing past joint pain

The important takeaway is that small amounts of weight loss create larger amounts of force reduction on overworked joints. Even if you “only” lose 5 lbs., you’ve reduced the burden on your joints by 7, 10, or even 20 lbs. A modest weight loss is still a major health gain. 

A combination of reduced calories and increased activity is typically the key to making progress against joint pain. To prevent further damage to joints, choose moderate, low-impact activities like walking and swimming. 

If your joint pain results from osteoarthritis, it’s better to keep moving the affected joints rather than to rest them. While it seems counterintuitive, gentle to moderate activity usually produces pain improvements over time. 

The key to balancing weight loss, activity, and joint pain requires medical input. The joint pain specialists at Joint Regeneration of Lake Oconee are the obvious choice, since they’re also experts at pain management. Call or click to schedule an exam and consultation today. 

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