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The Link Between Excess Weight and Arthritis

The Link Between Excess Weight and Arthritis

Being overweight can be incredibly frustrating and disrupt your quality of life in many ways. This is especially true when your extra pounds start to affect your joints.

You may not realize it, but excess weight causes nearly a quarter of all diagnosed cases of arthritis. If you’re obese, you’re 60% more likely to end up with arthritis compared with someone who maintains a healthy body weight.

We don’t want you to be part of that statistic. 

Here, our team at Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, takes a closer look at how your weight contributes to joint problems and shows you how we can help you find a way to a healthier, happier life.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a chronic condition that refers to inflammation and damage in your joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis develops when the cartilage (a cushioning substance in your joints) wears down, allowing your bones to rub against each other when you move. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of arthritis, but it’s an autoimmune disease in which your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

No matter which type of arthritis you have, it’s important to know how other areas of your health, such as your weight, can affect your joints. Here are just some of the ways being overweight can cause or exacerbate arthritis.

Accelerated joint degeneration

You have over 300 joints all over your body, each one giving you the flexibility you need to move with ease. Some of your joints, such as your knees and hips, bear your body weight. These weight-bearing joints are most at risk for arthritis and the most affected by excess body weight.

Consider this: 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, which contributes to the wear-and-tear that causes osteoarthritis. 

The force your knees and hips bear when you walk is three times your body weight; it increases to 10 times your body weight when you jump. The more body weight you force your joints to carry, the more damage is done.

But your lower body isn’t the only area affected.

For instance, you also have weight-bearing joints in your spine, primarily in your lower back. If you’re overweight, your lower back takes on even more stress, leading to arthritis in your vertebral joints.

As you gain weight and add stress to your joints, the protective cartilage degenerates and wears away at a faster pace, which leads to arthritis.

Increased joint inflammation

Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any of the other types of arthritis, you undoubtedly live with swollen, inflamed joints. Being overweight only adds fuel to the inflammation fire.

Fat cells constantly release biochemicals that cause inflammation throughout your body, including your joints. Extra body weight triggers higher levels of inflammation. This additional inflammation raises your risk of developing arthritis and makes existing arthritis worse.

Faster disease progression

Unfortunately, arthritis is a progressive disease for which there is no cure. If you’re overweight, the disease only progresses faster. Ultimately, your joints become so damaged that the only treatment option is surgery to replace the joint.

How we can help

Whether you have arthritis already or you’re overweight, don’t wait to get help. Our team at Central Clinic, led by Poonam Malhotra, MD, offers comprehensive care and support for weight loss with our doctor-supervised weight management program.

Depending on your needs, we may recommend:

You don’t 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%.

If you’re ready to get a handle on your weight and start supporting your joint health, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our Spring Hill, Florida, office.

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