Knee Pain and Weight Loss: Can Losing Weight Help Decrease Symptoms Associated with Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis, often referred to as “arthritis,” is a condition in which the layer of articular cartilage that separates your bones begins to wear down. In a healthy joint, this cartilage functions to cushion the joint, absorb shock, and prevent your bones from rubbing against one another. In a joint affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage has begun to break down, narrowing the space inside the joint and causing your bones to rub together. This can lead to pain, swelling, and difficulty performing your daily activities.

While osteoarthritis is often treated successfully with physical therapy in its early stages, research has shown that weight loss through diet and exercise may also be effective in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis. A study published in 2018 found that a weight loss of 10% led to decreased pain levels, reduced inflammation, and improved walking speed in overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. The same study found that a 20% loss of body weight led to an even greater improvement in pain level, function, and overall quality of life.

If you are overweight or obese and have knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, weight loss can be a safe and effective way to help reduce your symptoms and eliminate the need for medication. By losing weight, you are decreasing the compressive force throughout your knee joint. This can reduce the amount of friction created inside the joint, leading to decreased inflammation and pain.

If you are considering losing weight due to pain associated with osteoarthritis, there are many resources that you can utilize to set up a safe and effective program. A registered dietician can help you develop a good nutritional program, and a physical therapist or personal trainer can help you create an exercise routine. It is important to lose weight safely and gradually to avoid causing harm to your body.

If you think you need additional assistance with your nutrition program, our registered dietitian and physical therapist, Casey Miller can help. Her expertise, training and credentials are vital for promoting lifestyle choices in order to achieve your health and wellness goals. You can request an appointment by emailing us at rockville@fyzical.com or calling us at 301-948-4395.

Reference: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intensive Weight Loss Helps Knee Arthritis https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/intensive-weight-loss-helps-knee-arthritis