Weight loss and Osteoarthritis

February 1, 2017

Weight loss and Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is a progressive joint disease caused by slow loss of cartilage which results in the development of cysts at the margins of the joints and bony spurs. Joint pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of this disease and can affect normal work and daily activities. Commonly affected joints in OA are knees, hands, hips, big toes and neck and back. OA is further classified into primary OA and secondary OA.

Over 15 million adults are affected by OA in India, every year. It is estimated that 1 in 4 adults will develop hip OA by the age of eighty-five, while 1 in 2 adults will show knee OA symptoms; one in 12 individuals over 60 years will develop OA of hand.

One of the most common reasons for OA is overweight because it increases the load placed on the joints. Overweight women are at 4 times higher risk of developing OA while overweight men carry five times greater risk of OA as compared to people with normal weight.

Following are few benefits of weight loss in OA patients:
Reduces pain and pressure on joints: Less body weight often equals less pain. Every 10-pound (4.5 Kg) weight gain confers a 36% increase in the risk of knee OA. In other words, losing two pounds (around 1 kg) of weight results in approximately sixteen pounds of pressure reduction from the knees. The people who follow a combination of diet and regular exercise program experience a significant improvement in pain and joint function.

Prevents the onset of OA: Weight loss should be a first-line management approach, with the aim of quick initial weight loss of about 10% of the total body weight, to provide significant reductions in pain. This prevents the onset of osteoarthritis, relieve symptoms, improve function and increase the quality of life. Body fat reduction and increased exercise are vital in producing symptomatic relief of knee OA.

Improves joint function: Losing those extra pounds improves joint function because mechanical pressures inside the knee joint improve and thus lessens the pain to a greater extent. Patients must combine both exercise and diet for better results. Regular motion of joints nourishes cartilage and bone and strengthens joints.

Reduces inflammation: The patients with OA experience signs of inflammation throughout the body. Studies suggest that losing weight helps in reducing the levels of inflammatory chemicals like interleukins in the body.

Helps in getting sound sleep: Joint pain interferes with the sleep and may lead to insomnia after few years. Weight loss can improve your sleep pattern and thus help you in getting a better sleep.

Other benefits: Losing extra weight makes breathing easier, reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke, and helps live longer and disease-free life, decreases feelings of depression and reduces overall health care expenses.