Why Does Weight Loss Improve the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Why Does Weight Loss Improve the Symptoms of Arthritis?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 58 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Many more could be coping with conditions for which they’ve not yet seen a doctor. 

With over 100 forms of the disease, arthritis has an enormous impact on its sufferers, particularly when it affects important weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. When your arthritis flares up, you may find it difficult or even impossible to perform daily tasks that you once performed with ease. 

The team at Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine helps you with the appropriate medical treatments for your condition, and we often recommend weight loss as a way to improve your arthritis symptoms. It’s one of the best ways you can reduce pain and improve mobility. 

Here’s why losing weight makes such a difference for arthritis symptoms. 

The arthritis/obesity connection

A reported 39 million of people suffering from arthritis are overweight or obese, and the benefits of weight loss can make a tremendous difference. Carrying extra pounds adds strain to weight-bearing joints, and it’s often not a one-to-one relationship. 

Because body movement creates shifting balances and changes in your center of gravity, an additional 5 pounds of weight can add 25 pounds of force to joints. This one-to-five ratio could directly increase the pressures that create arthritis pain. 

But it works both ways. Losing 5 pounds can relieve 25 pounds of pressure. 

How weight loss helps

Another encouraging statistic is that losing 10 pounds can reduce the progression of cartilage loss in osteoarthritis by 50% if you’re overweight. Small changes add up to big differences. 

Pressure relief is just the beginning of the benefits weight loss holds for your arthritis symptoms. Reducing the amount of fat in your body lowers the overall level of inflammation. 

Fat isn’t inert. It’s active tissue that generates substances that encourage inflammation. This can aggravate autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, the second-most common form of arthritis. 

Lower body weight also leads to reduced uric acid levels in your bloodstream. High levels of uric acid contribute to gout, an inflammatory form of arthritis. Creating crystals inside joints like the big toe and ankle, these sharp formations create heat, swelling, and pain. Losing weight reduces strain on the kidneys, which filter out uric acid. 

Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis can sometimes fall into remission after weight loss. Several studies support this result in patients with these two forms of the disease. 

Activities that support weight loss

Increasing low-impact exercise — like walking or swimming — to 150 minutes per week is an excellent strategy to jump-start weight loss. These activities also help to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease. 

Though it may seem counterintuitive to work joints affected with arthritis, gentle motion reduces inflammation and improves blood flow, two factors that help to ease arthritis symptoms. So your efforts to drop extra pounds provide potential relief even before the benefits of weight loss kick in. 

When you need a partner in arthritis management, visit us at Southern Westchester Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. As arthritis specialists, we can help you with diagnosis and treatment. 

Make an appointment at any of our three locations — in Yonkers, Mamaroneck, and the Bronx, New York — by calling or clicking the online link. There’s an answer for your arthritis symptoms, so book your visit now.

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