Orthopedic Specialists

What a Difference a Few Pounds Can Make!

August 28, 2019

Being in a healthy weight range is important for every system in your body, including your joints!

There are two ways that being overweight can raise your risk of developing osteoarthritis – the most common joint disorder - which is due to wear and tear on a joint.  The more weight that is on a joint, the more stressed the joint becomes and the more likely it will wear down and be damaged.  Weight plays an important role in joint stress, so when people are very overweight, it puts stress on their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. 

Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees.  So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.  So if you think about all of the steps you take in a day, it is easy to see why it would lead to premature damage in weight-bearing joints.  If a person already has arthritis, the additional weight causes even more problems to the already damaged joints.

The second way being overweight can affect your joints is inflammation.  The extra weight is in the form of fat cells which create and release chemicals that promote inflammation.  Inflammation can have many adverse effects on the body.  It can play a role in osteoarthritis and also rheumatoid arthritis in all joints in the body.  Some inflammation chemicals can attack other body systems including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular.

So you have yet another reason to try and maintain a healthy body weight. Weight gain tends to happen as we age and it is more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. If you are a little overweight or a lot overweight, even a 5 – 10% weight loss can make a big difference and is a good place to start if you begin to have knee and/or hip pain. 

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