Arthritis affects many people, as we talked about yesterday on the blog. Of those people, 27 million suffer from a form of arthritis called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage–the portion of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones–breaks down and deteriorates. This causes stiffness and pain in the joint itself, and can also damage the ligaments and muscles in the area. Putting excess pressure on these joints causes the cartilage to breakdown even more significantly.
For those who suffer from osteoarthritis, taking the pressure–in this case, the weight–away can actually go a long way towards relieving pain.
Osteoarthritis and weight loss has been shown to help slow the progression of cartilage deterioration, improve the quality of life for patients, and ease symptoms. Studies have shown that a one pound increase in weight is equal to a three to five pound increase in the overall force on a joint. For somebody who is 20 pounds overweight, every step and every time getting out of the car is putting an extra 60 to 100 pounds of force on their joints.
The rule works in reverse.
In one study, losing just 11 pounds in excess weight reduced a woman’s risk of osteoarthritis by 50%. Another study found that knee osteoarthritis in obese men would decrease by over 20% if the men lost enough weight to be considered overweight only. Obese women would find a 30% decrease in osteoarthritis symptoms.
Any weight loss–from one pound to 20–can help reduce osteoarthritis pain.
If you have osteoarthritis or want to prevent it from occurring later, take steps to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight. This includes eating a healthy diet with appropriate caloric intake and getting enough exercise.
For those who already have osteoarthritis, there are certain activities that will be better for you. High-impact exercises will put excess strain on the joints. Instead, choose low-impact exercises such as:
- Water aerobics
- Cycling on a stationary bike
- Working out on an elliptical trainer
If you have osteoarthritis, it is possible to reduce your pain with just a few key practices that you can put into place today.
Image by Fort Rucker via Flickr