The Link Between Your Weight and Arthritis

There are good reasons to make losing weight a top priority if you’re overweight and have arthritis. Carrying excess weight places a burden on your joints, contributes to joint pain, and negatively impacts joint function. 

The good news is that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight not only improves your overall well-being and reduces your risk of chronic diseases, but it also eases arthritis pain and improves joints.

When you have arthritis, you need a skilled physician on your side. Rely on internal medicine physician Samuel I. Fink, MD, to help you manage your arthritis so you can live a full, healthy life. You can take a proactive role in your arthritis treatment. Learning more about your weight and arthritis is a good place to start.

Excess weight damages joints

Your weight has a significant impact on your joint health. Carrying just 10 extra pounds increases the burden on weight-bearing joints like your knees. The more weight you carry above a healthy weight, the greater the impact on your joint health. Body mass index (BMI) is a good indicator of how much body fat you carry.

Each extra pound you weigh above the normal range adds about 4 pounds of pressure on your weight-bearing joints. That means being even 10 pounds overweight increases the pressure on your knees by 30 to 60 pounds. As you walk, climb, and go about your day, your joints absorb the added burden. 

Patients with arthritis face a number of challenges. Your achy joints may discourage you from exercising, while medication you may be taking to manage your arthritis may increase appetite or carry weight gain as a side effect. 

Excess weight increases the wear-and-tear on your joints, damaging them with every step you take. Your weight-bearing joints absorb pressure when you walk. The strain on your joints causes inflammation and increases joint pain and stiffness.

Overweight and obesity increases risk of developing arthritis

Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it most commonly affects joints in your knees, hands, and spine. With osteoarthritis, you may experience:

Arthritis pain and stiffness may prevent you from engaging in activities you once enjoyed and can limit your mobility. 

Excess body fat worsens arthritis 

It was previously thought that fat cells served only as dormant energy storage. Thanks to research, it’s now known that fat is chemically active. Fat tissue is an active organ that secretes hormones and other substances. 

In fact, fat cells secrete inflammatory chemicals that damage joints and make arthritis worse, according to a study published in the journal Rheumatology. This means excess weight directly damages all of the joints in your body, not just weight-bearing joints.

Losing weight is key to easing arthritis

Weight loss is shown to have tremendous benefits for arthritis patients. Those who lose weight through exercise and adopting healthy eating habits report less arthritis pain, according to one study published in the American Medical Association journal.

Losing excess weight also improves joint function and reduces inflammation. The best results come with a combination of exercise and diet, however, even weight loss without exercise significantly improves joint function in people with arthritis.

Patients with arthritis who lose weight feel better overall. They have improved mobility and report improvements in quality of life. Additionally, weight loss lessens disease activity, reducing the overall severity of your arthritis, according to a study published in International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

For expert help managing your arthritis, you can count on us. To schedule a visit with Dr. Fink, call our office in Tarzana, California, or request an appointment online today. 

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