Obesity and Joint Pain: Can Being Overweight Cause Joint Pain?

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Obesity causes a range of problems in both men and women, including increased rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. One problem that’s very common among obese patients is joint pain.

It makes sense that more weight on the joints would cause joint pain, but what kind of damage is obesity really doing to the joints? Let’s find out.

Can Being Overweight Cause Joint Pain?

Yes, being overweight can cause joint pain, although this is largely unsurprising. Excess weight on the joints can cause the joints to feel exceedingly high levels of pressure when moving them. The most susceptible joints to this pressure are the spine, hips, knees, and ankles. An extra 50 pounds of bodyweight can add as much as 200 pounds of additional pressure on the knees while walking!

In addition to the pressure of excess weight on the joints, obesity can cause other issues such as osteoarthritis. But what is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis & Obesity

Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage on the ends of your bones starts to break down. The cartilage is important for padding the bones on the joint, so that they’re able to move without grinding against each other.

Aging accelerates this process, causing joint pain to get worse and worse over time. Cartilage cannot regrow, so this damage will be permanent if allowed to continue. If osteoarthritis is allowed to progress for too long, the only remedy will be joint replacement surgery.

If You Lose Weight, Will Joint Pain Go Away?

Yes, if you lose weight your joint pain will subside somewhat. However, accumulated damage due to osteoarthritis will still remain, and in some cases, surgery is required to replace the joints in question.

It’s highly recommended that patients dealing with osteoarthritis, particularly the early stages, lose weight by eating a balanced diet made up of whole foods. Bariatric surgery is also an excellent option for patients who are dealing with osteoarthritis.

Weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve can help a patient lose on average 50% of their excess weight in the first year after surgery. This will significantly decrease the amount of pressure on your joints, leading to lower levels of joint pain and slowing the progression of osteoarthritis.

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