As we mentioned in a previous blog, obesity and excess weight is a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis (OA). Increased weight puts more stress on the joints and can lead to the break down of joint tissues. Additionally, fat cells promote inflammation which causes pain and swelling. So how does weight loss affect the symptoms of OA?

Weight Loss to Reduce Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis

Researchers at Wake Forest University conducted two studies analyzing the effects of weight loss on people with knee OA. In the first trial, the researchers found that a weight loss of 10% led to improved mobility and decreased pain by 50% over a period of 18 months. Patients in this trial followed one of three weight loss programs: diet alone, exercise alone, or diet and exercise combined. Those who combined diet and exercise had the greatest weight loss, followed by those who followed a diet alone. Those who only used exercise to lose weight did not lose a statistically significant amount of weight.

Increased Weight Loss Leads to Better Results

Though the National Institutes of Health recommends a weight loss of 10% for overweight and obese adults to reduce the symptoms of OA, the researchers at Wake Forest conducted a second study that concluded that more weight loss led to a greater reduction in symptoms of knee OA. The recent study found that those who lost more than 10% of their body weight experienced greater improvement of their symptoms across all measures, including pain reduction. But the greatest improvements were seen in those who lost 20% or more of their body weight. Overweight and obese adults aged 55 and older with knee OA who lost 20% or more of their body weight saw far greater improvements in pain, function, quality of life, inflammation, and knee joint stress than those who lost less.

A Well-Balanced Approach

Most of us know that losing weight and keeping it off can be difficult. So, while we know that weight loss can lead to reduced symptoms of OA, a balanced approach to managing your OA may also be beneficial. For instance, joint-friendly exercises may help to reduce symptoms of OA. Studies have found that regular physical activity can benefit patients with osteoarthritis and lead to an improvement in symptoms. Check out this blog regarding walking to reduce symptoms of OA.