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

8 Ways Losing Weight Helps Alleviate Arthritis Pain

When it comes to health conditions consequent of overweight and obesity, we often think of heart disease and diabetes, though there is a strong tie to excess weight and arthritis. So if you are carrying excess weight and simultaneously managing arthritis, here are eight reasons to lose the weight.

8 Ways Losing Weight Helps Alleviate Arthritis Pain

1. Reduces Pressure On the Joints

Carrying extra weight places extra pressure on the joints, especially in the lower half of the body.

But according to the Arthritis Foundation, a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism examining overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis found losing one single pound of weight resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees!

Think about this weighty scenario: If a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on the knees! So if you consider all the movement your lower body bares, the premature damage weight-baring joints endures is logical and significantly evident.

2. Eases Pain and Inflammation

The Arthritis Foundation further indicates weight loss can lessen pain, improve function and lower inflammation levels in the body, as fat creates and releases pro-inflammatory chemicals. Exercise, which also aids in weight loss, has been shown to help manage and lessen the pain and symptoms of arthritis.

Furthermore, individuals with knee osteoarthritis can reduce pain by 50 percent and drastically improve function and mobility by losing 10 percent or more of weight over an 18-month period.

3. Lessens Risk of Remission

A study published in Arthritis Care & Research explored the effects of overweight, obesity, and the likelihood of achieved sustained remission in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

After comparing the body mass indexes (BMIs) of almost 1,000 patients, researchers discovered overweight and obese patients were significantly less likely to achieve remission in early RA compared to those with a healthy BMI.

4. Deters Medication Side Effects

With weight loss showing to be an effective technique for managing arthritis, medications may not be as frequently prescribed or needed altogether.

That being said, losing weight can help deter the risks of side effects common arthritic medications cause, including edema, heartburn, stomach ulcers, cataracts, high blood lipids and sugars, bone loss, heart attack, and injection site reactions and infections.

5. Saves on Treatment Costs

Treating arthritis can be costly itself. Add on the progressive risk of additional comorbidities, including heart disease and diabetes, medications and treatments funds can only lengthen your bill.

So because weight loss is a non-drug way to ease joint pain and manage arthritis, you are likely to save on costs that were once allotted to treatments and medications.

6. Induces Better Sleep

Up to 80 percent of those living with arthritis have difficulty sleeping related to a number of factors, including swollen joints and the hardships of getting comfortable. And unfortunately, the cycle is quite vicious, as poor sleep can make joint pain worse and even increase the likelihood that of disability and depression. Even more unfortunately, a loss of sleep can lead to greater weight gain.

But those who lose weight loss can break the cycle and help induce better sleep, while implementing healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stress management, can further aid in a better night’s rest.

7. Improves Overall Health and Quality of Life

While there is no denying weight loss and its improvements on arthritis can improve overall and quality of life, 2018 research backs such notion.

Published in Arthritis Care & Research, evidence revealed that 20 percent or more weight loss has the added benefit of continued improvement in physical health-related quality of life along with an additional 25 percent reduction in pain and improvement in function.

8. Deters Mortality Risks

Rheumatoid arthritis has been associated with an increased risk of death, particularly related to respiratory and cardiovascular causes.

The increased mortality risk for RA patients are speculated to be caused by altered immunity, medication side effects, the effects of chronic inflammation and exacerbated comorbidities, and excessive unhealthy behaviors such as smoking.

Whereas losing weight is paramount for managing arthritis and improving overall health, it is important to seek out professional guidance for a safe and proper weight loss plan. Healthcare professionals such as Registered Dietitians can assist in healthy eating practices and regimen that works best for you and your lifestyle.

Christy Zagarella's Photo
Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on August 01, 2019.


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