The weight of our body is supported by our joints. Those with excess weight put extra pressure on the joints making it hard for them to work properly. Most of the weight of the body is supported by the lower half of the body. A study shows that 3.2 percent of people with healthy weight have osteoarthritis of the knee but it affects 19.5% of people with grade 2 obesity.(1) Excess weight puts extra pressure on the knees, which can result in chronic pain.
Obesity increases the chances of a person to suffer from arthritis. People with higher body mass index tend to get arthritis at a younger age.
In osteoarthritis the cartilage or the cushion within the joint degenerates. This leads to bones rubbing with each other causing irritation, pain, and swelling. The more weight put on the joints greater the effects of arthritis.
Being overweight can also increase the risk of joint inflammation caused by the overactive immune system. This can lead to joint pain.
How Weight loss Alleviates Joint Pain?
Reducing weight can be a big factor in reducing joint pains, especially in the lower half of the body.
Maintaining an ideal weight is much needed for those with joint pain and also to decrease the chances of occurrence of joint pain in others. According to a study, decreased body weight can reduce the chances of knee osteoarthritis by 50%.(2)
Another study found that people with obesity have 4-5 times more likely to get arthritis in their knees.(4)
If a person has weight-induced arthritis, losing a few pounds can help ease the symptoms. It cannot reverse arthritis or regrow the cartilage but for sure help the joint with arthritis to feel better.
Weight loss can also improve joint function. A study found that mechanical pressure inside and around the knee joint improved with weight loss.(3)
Weight Loss Strategies for People with Joint Pain
Weight loss can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and improve the quality of life. It also reduces the risk of many other chronic health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Here are a few strategies for weight loss for people with joint pain.
Introduce Low-Calorie Healthy Foods
A person can choose to eat fewer calories to lose weight but should make sure that the choices are healthy. It should mostly contain fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and dairy products.
Healthy fats contain omega-3 fatty acids and are present in fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and trout. These can be added to the weight loss diet.
Processed foods, sugar, and excess salt should be avoided.
Along with eating healthy one should make sure that they control their portions too.
Even if the food is healthy, eating in excess can be unhealthy.
Make Exercise a Habit
Exercise can be helpful in losing weight and can also relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Motivation for exercise especially when there is a pain in the joint is very difficult. A person can start with low-impact exercises such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or Pilates. Always remember more you move more calories you can burn and the more will be weight loss. One can also opt for group sessions as they can be a good motivation.
Doing aerobics in a heated pool can be helpful, as it can soothe and relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Also, water helps in toning and building muscle strength.
A physical therapist can be consulted to devise a safe workout.
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Along with low-impact exercises, strengthening the muscles around the joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis is also very important. It helps in improving the stability of the joint and gives ease in performing daily tasks.
Building muscle strength can bring stability to the joints and help in preventing injuries.
Keep a Note of All the Meals
Many nutritionists recommend keeping a food diary. Write down what you consume and how much you consume. Review it.
This helps in keeping a track of the calorie intake in a day and keeping a watch if it is exceeding.
Makes sure to be true to the dairy.
Excess weight can be really hard on the joints. It can also be the cause of various other health conditions. Basically, it badly impacts the quality of life. Those with joint pains can consider starting up with the above-mentioned strategies to shed those extra pounds and live a healthy and pain-free life.