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Can Weight Loss Help in Reducing Joint Pain?

Optimum body weight is important for all of us and more so if you have joint pain due to arthritis. Obesity has its risks in causing and increasing osteoarthritis. If you are overweight, then weight loss can help in reducing joint pain.

A correlation between body weight and pressure on joints was studied, and results were published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. The results stated that overweight individuals suffering from knee osteoarthritis may be relieved of pressure on their knees equivalent to approximately 4 times the weight they lose. So, a loss of 5 kg in weight will reduce roughly 20 kg pressure off the knee joint.

To better understand the relationship between obesity and joint pain, we consulted Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal, a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic. Dr Vijay is an expert in the field and regularly treats patients with joint-related problems. He explained that cytokines (proteins) released by fat tissues cause inflammation. Due to obesity, the level of cytokines rises and may lead to joint damage causing additional pain and stiffness in the case of inflammatory arthritis.

Dr Vijay further explained that osteoarthritis occurs due to the gradual deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the bone-ends in a joint. Higher body weight increases the stress on the joint and increases the risk of osteoarthritis. Overweight men and women are several times more prone to osteoarthritis as compared to non-obese individuals, a study revealed. Dr Vijay confirms that while joint surgeries are very successful and he regularly conducts successful joint surgeries at MGM healthcare, weight management may help patients avoid surgical solutions. Here’s a list of some of the benefits of weight reduction:    

Joint pain reduction

The medial and the lateral parts of the knee are the most affected when the BMI is higher. As discussed earlier, weight loss helps in reducing joint pain by easing the pressure on the joints. The reduced mechanical stress on the cartilage and the joint may give much-needed relief to the patient.

Inflammation Reduction

When the extra fat gets removed from the body, the fat tissues produce lesser inflammation-causing protein. The change reduces inflammation throughout the body including the joints. This also reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis psoriatic arthritis as well as associated heart disease.  

Reduction in Severity of the Disease

A study was done on the MRIs of overweight osteoarthritis patients’ knees. It revealed that the patients who lost weight over a period of 4 years, had considerably lower degeneration of their cartilage. Lesser weight meant that the progression of the disease could slow down. The patients experienced better joint functionality and lesser fatigue.   

Next Step

Dr Vijay recommends that weight loss should be attempted and though patients may find it difficult, it’s worth the effort. There are ways to exercise the bad joints without stressing them out. It’s best to talk to your doctor or a senior specialist like Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal and understand the next steps recommended for you.

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