Obesity is a Risk Factor for Osteoarthritis

According to the Center for Disease Control, over 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese…and more than 1 in 3 of those obese people will get arthritis in their lifetime. The definition of “overweight” in most cases is based on a BMI of 25-29.9; “obesity” counts as a BMI of 30 or greater.

Being overweight significantly increases one’s risk of developing arthritis because of the extra force on the joints. Obese men and women are 4 or 5 times more likely to develop the disease. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, being even 10 pounds overweight increases the force on one’s knees by 30-60 pounds.

Not only is the extra weight a risk for osteoarthritis (OA), but research studies have begun to discover that fat cells themselves create and release chemicals that may cause inflammation in the joints.

Can I have a Joint Replacement if I’m Overweight?

Joint replacement surgery is not always the best “first option” treatment plan for obese people because of the surgical risks. Obese patients have a higher risk of infection, blood clots, and wound complications. Additionally, knee and hip replacements wear out at a faster rate in obese patients than non-obese patients, so people will be more likely to need multiple reimplantation surgeries in their lifetime.

However, patients who are overweight and obese can – and have had – excellent results from a joint replacement!

Benefits of Losing Weight

Weight loss can greatly reduce one’s chances of developing OA. Although cartilage degeneration may prove to be inevitable in people who have struggled with their weight or have fluctuated significantly in their weight, it is a much slower degeneration process for people who lose a lot of weight.

Unfortunately, arthritis can also be a factor in weight gain because it is harder to move around or be active when your joints are in significant pain. But don’t give up! Treatment options, diets, and exercise programs are low-stress on your joints and that will help you fight your joint pain.

Ask your primary care doctor before beginning any new regimens to lose weight.

We are happy to help you in your journey to lose weight and to walk pain-free. Please call our office to schedule a consultation if you are concerned that you have osteoarthritis.


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