How Your Weight Affects Your Risk of Developing Arthritis

One in 3 people who are obese have arthritis, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a higher number than the general population. Why does weight affect your risk of developing arthritis so much?

Extra pounds put more pressure on your joints and being overweight or obese also puts your body in a state of inflammation that makes arthritis more likely. At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, we want to help you achieve a healthy weight to reduce your arthritis risk or pain. Weight control is an important part of any plan to maintain functioning, pain-free joints.

Pressure on the joints

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It’s characterized by pain and stiffness in your joints due to the degradation of cartilage. Cartilage is the connective tissue that provides cushioning between joints.

While osteoarthritis has a genetic component and risk of developing joint pain increases with age, your weight also plays a significant role. The more weight that you put on a joint, the more stressed that joint becomes. With stress, the cartilage wears down, and you experience osteoarthritis pain.

For every extra pound of weight you carry, you put four extra pounds on your knees. If you’re just 10 pounds overweight, that’s 40 more pounds on your knees. If you’re carrying 50 extra pounds, that’s 200 pounds of extra stress.

Inflammation increases

When you carry excess fat, your level of inflammation increases. Fat is active tissue that releases chemicals known as cytokines, which can promote inflammatory reactions in your body, including arthritis.

Osteoarthritis may develop as a result of increased body inflammation, but so can rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks joint tissue mistakenly. You experience joint erosion, dysfunction, and pain as a result. Excess fat that produces inflammatory chemicals exacerbates rheumatoid arthritis. 

Keep your weight in a healthy range

If you have developed arthritis or are at greater risk due to age and genetics, keeping your weight in a normal range is critical. Increasing physical activity is one of the best strategies in your quest to prevent pounds from piling on. Even if you have arthritis, gentle activity is important in keeping the joints mobile and supple.

The recommended minimum in terms of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity work weekly. More can be helpful as long as you keep to mostly low-impact choices such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Activity burns calories and helps keep your energy stores in balance so you maintain a healthy size.

Watch what you eat as well. A whole-foods diet that includes lots of lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains supports a healthy weight and reduces systemic inflammation. The phytochemicals and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables can be particularly beneficial in helping ease arthritis development and pain if you already have it.

Talk to the providers at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists if you’re overweight or obese and want a little more guidance with weight loss. We can help you achieve a healthy size as well as undertake other lifestyle changes that discourage the development of arthritis. Make an appointment by calling one of our offices or scheduling online

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