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The link between weight and joint pain

The link between weight and joint pain

By now, most of us are aware that targeting and maintaining a healthy weight can have a positive impact on nearly every aspect of our physical health, from cardiac and circulatory health to mental wellness. So, it’s no surprise that a healthy weight is also beneficial for your joints, both in managing everyday pain and for long-term health of your joints, bones, and cartilage.

Impact on Weight-Bearing Joints
Excess weight can strain your knees, hips, ankles, and other weight-bearing joints that are responsible for holding you up and supporting movement when you stand, walk, run, and jump. These joints carry your full body weight, and the more body weight these joints are asked to carry, the more likely they are to become damaged or suffer an injury.

The primary weight-bearing joints are your knees, ankles, and hips. When you walk, the pressure on your knees can be three to six times greater than your body weight. If you gain just 10 pounds, your knees will have to support an additional 30 to 60 pounds of pressure every time you take a step.

Impact on Cartilage
The part of each joint that’s most affected by excess body weight is articular cartilage, the firm, rubbery tissue that covers the ends of the bones inside the joint. Its purpose is to provide a smooth surface that allows the bones to move without friction or rubbing bone against bone. It also absorbs shock and passes the pressure onto the bone.

The cartilage inside your joints — especially your knees — continuously breaks down with overuse, injury, or daily wear-and-tear over the years. Since articular cartilage bears the burden of your body weight, any existing cartilage degeneration starts to break down more quickly as you gain weight. The overall result is this: Your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis is at least four to five times higher when you’re overweight. The good news, though, is that you can significantly lower your chance of knee osteoarthritis by losing weight. Studies show that women who lost as little as 11 pounds cut their risk of knee osteoarthritis in half.

Impact on joint inflammation
People who are overweight and who also have rheumatoid arthritis experience more joint pain. That’s because fat cells release substances that promote body-wide inflammation, which aggravates the joint inflammation already caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
However, as with other weight-related joint issues, weight loss can lower inflammation, improve joint function, and help reduce overall joint pain.

If you’re overweight and you struggle with knee pain, or pain in any of your weight-bearing joints, a specialized practice like DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Decatur can treat the problem in your joint, help relieve your pain, and even recommend gentle exercises to help you lose weight without further aggravating your joints.

Since 1972, DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine have been committed to providing exceptional orthopaedic care through innovative techniques, quality services, patient communication, and education. With specialties ranging from general orthopaedics and physical therapy to sports medicine, joint replacement and more, the doctors at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can provide local expert care for any orthopaedic disorder or injury and help put your life back in motion.

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