The Link Between Excess Weight and Arthritis

Your body weight dramatically affects your chances of developing arthritis. Being overweight directly causes nearly one-fourth of all diagnosed cases of arthritis. And if you’re obese, you’re 60% more likely to end up with arthritis compared to people who maintain a healthy body weight.

By the time joint pain drives people to seek help from Dr. W. Joseph Absi at Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute, they already have arthritis, and often it has reached an advanced stage.

We would like to help you prevent the disease by showing you how being overweight or obese affects your joints and accelerates arthritis.

Arthritis and your weight

Your weight doesn’t just influence your risk for arthritis. Once you have arthritis, you’re more likely to become disabled if you’re overweight.

Though body weight is typically associated with osteoarthritis, it also contributes to rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis develops at an earlier age in people who are overweight or obese. Additionally, carrying extra weight delays the effect of the drugs we prescribe to treat the disease and slow down joint damage.

Many people can prevent arthritis or drastically lower their risk by losing weight. You don’t even need to lose a massive amount of weight to make a difference. For example, obese women who lose 11 pounds can lower their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by at least 50%.

Body weight accelerates joint degeneration

Your weight-bearing joints are especially vulnerable to arthritis. The weight in your upper body puts pressure on your spine, primarily in your lower back. As a result, being overweight leads to facet joint arthritis in the vertebral joints.

Your knees and hips bear the brunt of excess body weight. Every time you take a step, the force that occurs when your foot hits the ground travels up your legs. Your joints then absorb and transfer that force, significantly contributing to the ongoing wear and tear that causes osteoarthritis.

Consider this: When you walk, the force on each knee is three times your body weight. When you jump, the load is 10 times your weight.

As you gain weight and add stress to your joints, the protective cartilage degenerates and wears away at a faster pace. That’s how you develop osteoarthritis.

Excess weight boosts joint inflammation

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease. Rheumatoid arthritis begins when your immune system attacks the tissues lining your joints and causes inflammation. Though osteoarthritis doesn’t begin with inflammation, it gradually develops due to damage and irritation in the joint.

Without treatment, the joint inflammation becomes chronic and contributes to the severity of your disease. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation erodes the bone and leads to joint deformities.

There’s another way being overweight contributes to inflammation. Fat cells constantly release biochemicals that cause inflammation throughout your body, including your joints. Extra body weight translates into more biochemicals and a higher level of inflammation. This additional inflammation raises your risk of developing arthritis and makes existing arthritis worse.

Being overweight leads to faster disease progression

Arthritis is a progressive disease for which we don’t have a cure. The progressive joint degeneration proceeds at a faster pace in people who are overweight. Ultimately, the joint becomes so damaged that the only treatment option is surgery to replace the joint.

Whether you have joint pain and stiffness or you’re overweight, don’t wait to get help. We have a wide range of arthritis treatments that relieve your pain, make it easier to move, and help to reduce inflammation.

The team at Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute also offers comprehensive care and support for weight loss with their doctor-supervised weight management program.

To get treatment that slows down joint damage from arthritis, call our office or request an appointment online today.

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