Here's How Your Weight Affects Your Joints

Of course you’d like to lose weight. But you also like your lifestyle, and don’t want to feel deprived. So, though you may have reached your goal weight once or twice, you just haven’t been able to stay there.

If you have arthritis or joint pain and are overweight, you have one more reason to finally get to your goal weight and stay there. Being overweight or obese has profoundly negative effects on your joints, and makes your arthritis worse over time. Carrying too many pounds on your joints also makes you more uncomfortable and stiff right now.

At Douglas J. Abeles MD & Associates in Castro Valley, California, we understand how every part of your health and well-being affect your joints. That’s why Dr. Abeles and all of our dedicated staff focus on treating you with holistic therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic, as well as traditional orthopedic treatments and minimally invasive surgery.

If you’ve suffered through several unsuccessful bouts of yo-yo dieting, or have never been able to lose weight, Dr. Abeles can refer you to a medically supervised weight-loss program. Here he outlines a few of the main reasons that losing weight is essential to preserving joint function and minimizing or preventing the pain and stiffness of arthritis.

Those extra “5” pounds are really 20 pounds … or more

You may not think that carrying around just a little extra weight — say, 5 or 10 pounds — could have a negative effect on your joints. But when combined with gravity, each extra pound of body weight above your joints ends up exerting 4 times the stress. It can be even more, when you hold your body at an angle.

That means your five pounds translate into at least 20 pounds of added force on your joints. And 10 pounds equals at least 40 pounds of stress. Of course, the opposite is also true, so when you shed those 10 pounds, you’re giving your joints 40 pounds of relief.

Excess fat causes inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of many health conditions. When you have excess fat on your body, the fatty (adipose) tissue releases pro-inflammatory factors such as interleukin (IL)-6 , tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1). Studies suggest that an excess of these proinflammatory factors increases your risk for serious and even life-threatening disorders, including diabetes and arthritis.

Inflammation affects your joints because it can spread to your all-important cartilage, causing a breakdown of that protective tissue. Once enough of your cartilage is gone, you may need to undergo joint replacement surgery. The better plan is to protect what cartilage you have by losing weight and reducing inflammation.

The extra weight slows you down

Staying active is actually good for your joints, because it makes your joints’ supporting muscles stronger and encourages your body to produce synovial fluid. Synovial fluid bathes your joints in lubrication that keeps them moving smoothly and easily.

When you’re overweight or obese, it’s harder to move your body and get the exercise you need. That’s why it’s important to break the vicious cycle by adding more activity into your life, no matter what your condition or how badly your joints hurt.

Dr. Abeles evaluates your overall health when making activity recommendations. He also listens to your interests and concerns about exercise, so that you can become active without worrying about injury. He may start you on an easy routine that incorporates low-impact activities such as:

As you grow stronger, he adds in other activities. Eventually, you’ll have a range of exercises and fun activities to choose from, including:

Varying your exercise routine from day to day keeps your muscles strong and also helps you avoid boredom. Find a workout or walking buddy to make your exercise time a social time, too.

Take the weight off your joints by finally reaching and maintaining a healthy goal weight. To get help with your arthritis and preserve your joints, or to schedule a consultation for joint replacement surgery, contact us today by phone or online form

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