Weight Loss for Osteoarthritis Relief

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease, also known as degenerative arthritis, which is a chronic condition that affects the joints. OA tends to worsen over time, breaking down the cartilage and causing pain, swelling, and joint mobility issues. However, Osteoarthritis symptoms may be easier to manage or be less severe by adding weight loss to your treatment plan.

Patients with osteoarthritis who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of permanent joint damage at a much faster rate than those with osteoarthritis who are at a healthy weight. There are additional risk factors that can affect OA, such as increasing age, previous injury to the joint, overuse of the joint, weaken muscles, and genetics. However, OA patients that combine diet and exercise to their treatment plan are more likely to have pain and symptom relief.

According to a study by Arthritis Care & Research, patients who participated in both diet and exercise were more likely to experience relief from OA pain. The study revealed the greatest average amount of weight loss came from patients who combined diet and exercise, followed by those who tried dieting alone, and the lowest average amount of weight loss was from those who tried exercising alone. In a current study by the same researchers, it was noted that the same outcomes were anticipated, although the patients who lost a higher percentage of their body weight saw the most promising relief from their OA pain.

How is this possible?

Managing your weight can be a critical factor in pain management when it comes to conditions like osteoarthritis. A person who is overweight or obese has additional body weight which directly affects all aspects of their health. When it comes to the joints though, it is also added weight on them, which increases the strain on the joints, causing them to do more work to maintain their functionality. This added strain causes damage at a much faster rate than normal wear and tear on the joints would, regardless of whether the joint has any degeneration or not. Weight loss can directly affect the joints in a positive way whether through exercising as it can increase the mobility and functionality of the joint and strengthen it, or through dieting as it can reduce the additional weight and strain on the joint, or both.

“The importance of our study is that a weight loss of 20 percent or greater – double the previous standard – results in better clinical outcomes and is achievable without [drugs or surgery],” Stephen Messier, PhD

By combining both diet and exercise, the patients had much higher average weight loss results. The results showed that the greater the weight loss, the greater the pain relief. While the study showed promising results, there is no way to know if maintaining a healthy weight will stop the degeneration or damage caused by osteoarthritis. However, results show that being overweight or obese can increase the damage to the joints, which cannot regenerate on its own.

Start with a consultation

At Northeast Knee and Joint Institute, we understand the importance of maintaining your health to find pain relief. It takes time to see progress when you want relief now. If you are thinking about weight loss as a healthy way to help manage your OA pain for the long-run, let us help. With our Whole Person Approach to Healthcare, we can work with you on all aspects of your life to help you find a balance and to set realistic goals that will work for you. Whether you utilize any of our regenerative medicine options to your treatment plan, or simply just need help getting yourself on track to a healthier tomorrow, Northeast Knee and Joint Institute can help.

To read more about this study or its results, visit the Arthritis Foundations blog: More Weight Loss Is Better For Knee OA.