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Arthritis

Learn how weight loss can decrease the effects of arthritis and help you live a better, more comfortable, life.

The Role of Body Weight in Arthritis and Joint Pain

Body weight is essentially a collection of all components of the body, including fat, muscle, bone, organs, and water. Though there are large influences of weight, excess body weight in the form of fat places great risk of chronic diseases, including various forms of arthritis.

The Role of Body Weight in Arthritis and Joint Pain


Body weight is essentially a collection of all components of the body, including fat, muscle, bone, organs, and water. Though there are large influences of weight, excess body weight in the form of fat places great risk of chronic diseases, including various forms of arthritis.

Moreover, while 1 in 5 Americans are diagnosed with arthritis, that number jumps to more than 1 in 3 among obese people and and 2 of 3 Americans are either overweight or obese.

Arthritis is an umbrella term to describe inflammation of one or more joints, that often causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion that can worsen with age. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, thus compromising the ability to accomplish daily functions and lowering quality of life.

The Link Between Obesity and Arthritis

Excess body weight can increase the risk of and exacerbate arthritis, particularly related to wear and tear of joints and increased inflammation in the body.

Causes Wear and Tear

The link between obesity and arthritis risk is quite rational, as carrying around extra pounds strains joints and causes wear and tear on them.

This is especially observed in osteoarthritis (OA), which is characterized by breakdown of cartilage, or the connective tissue that protects the ends of bones at a joint. So the more weight and stress placed on a joint, the more likely to cause damage and pain.

The effects tend to be greater on weight-bearing joints and explains the connection between being overweight and knee pain. In fact, every pound of excess weight contributes to four pounds of extra pressure on the knees!

Increases Inflammation in the Body

Along with the physical impact of wear and tear causing joint pain, carrying excess body weight triggers inflammatory markers in the body.

Body fat itself is an active tissue that creates and releases pro-inflammatory chemicals, including cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), which produces inflammation and pain in the joints.

Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, is also a form of arthritis closely linked to body weight. Reported by the Arthritis Foundation, "about 70 percent of people with gout are overweight and 14 percent are obese. Being obese puts a person at a higher risk of developing gout in the first place – and of getting gout 11 years earlier on average than someone of normal weight."

Easing and Treating Joint Pain

There are a number of methods that can help manage and ease joint pain, including through weight loss, various therapy techniques, supplements, and medications.

Weight Loss

Remember, every pound of excess body weight contributes to four pounds of extra pressure on the knees. That being said, weight loss is one of the most effective ways to not only ease joint pain, but reverse it.

Losing weight with arthritis consists of modifying the diet, incorporating exercise, ensuring adequate sleep, and managing stress.

Consulting with a doctor is recommended to help determine a targeted body weight goal, along with advising a safe, effective, and individualized weight loss plan.

Various Therapies

A multitude of therapies are recommended to ease joint pain, reduce inflammation, and improve overall quality of life. Viable therapy options include:

• Heat therapy, as applying heat with heating pads, warm compresses, heat patches, or warm baths can help soothe aching joints
• Cold therapy, including with an ice or frozen veggie pack, to reduce inflammation
• Physical therapy, which improves mobility, restores the use of affected joints, and increases strength to support the joints
• Occupational therapy to help people living with arthritis fine-tune daily activities, including turning a key and cutting with scissors
• Massage therapy for easing muscle tension surrounding the joints
• Hydrotherapy, which uses water pressures to relieve pain

Supplements

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a number of supplements are backed by science and shown to be effective in treating arthritis, including S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), Indian frankincense, capsaicin, turmeric, and fish oil.

Despite the general safety of these products, it is important to always consult with a doctor before taking any sort of supplement and use only as directed and advised.

Medications

Though medications should not displace or overall more natural remedies, they are frequently prescribed to ease joint pain.

NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory are generally recommended to lessen overall inflammation in the body and joints, while with some medications, including Enbrel and Remicade, target specific inflammatory biomarkers associated to arthritis.

Other treatment options include pain relievers, steroid shots, and topical creams and gels.

 

Reference:
Obesity and Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.



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