When people think of diseases associated with obesity

When people think of diseases associated with obesity the first things that pop into their head usually would be cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease. All of these would be right, however, another obesity related disease that is often undermined and overlooked is Osteoarthritis.

Although it can be argued weather obesity can actually cause the arthritis itself, it cannot be argued that obesity makes the arthritis worse.

Osteoarthritis is essentially degeneration of the cartilage within a joint, which can be caused by mechanical deformities or just general ‘wear and tear’ as we age. The cartilage is what sits within a joint in order to allow bones to articulate against each other properly without the bone running on bone.

It not only acts as a lubricant but also a shock absorber within the joint. As a consequence of the decreased joint space and lack of cartilage, the joint becomes inflamed and painful.

Studies show that during walking, the hip, knees and ankles bear 3 to 5 times a persons body weight. Hence, the more you weigh, the more your lower limb joints have the bear. And due to the joints being very sensitive because of the lack of cartilage, these higher compressive forces cause an increase in pain and can even cause the arthritis to become worse as the cartilage will diminish at a higher rate.

Some of the above might sound a little complicated but in essence; the more weight that’s put on a joint, the more stressed a joint becomes, and it’s more likely it will break and down and be damaged. This point is reinforced by Eric Matteson, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as he says “Weight plays an important role in joint stress, so when people are very overweight, it puts stress on their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints, like the knees and the hips”.

The good news is that in contrast, for every 5kg of weight that is lost it will relieve 15kg to 25kg of stress from your joints. So although being overweight can lead to arthritis and will make the arthritis worse, weight loss will help reduce your risk of developing arthritis and it will reduce your symptoms if you already suffer from it. A big area of rehabilitation and treatment plans for osteoarthritis tends to be focused around improving joint stability and mobility. As the research suggests this is likely to help decrease the symptoms and is a big part of arthritis management. However, if a person is overweight with arthritis, weight loss must be added into the treatment plan in order to reduce the associated inflammation and pain levels.

If you suffer with osteoarthritis and are unsure of how to start a specific weight loss program, speak to your local Exercise Physiologist to be prescribed a safe and effective program.

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Ben Davis

Accredited Exercise Physiologist

About Clinton Joynes

I am a motivated person who is interested in all things relating to exercise. I have worked with elite athletes to people with chronic illnesses. I love motivating others to achieve their goals. I believe in a personal and fun approach to life and work.

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