Extra Pounds Increase Arthritis Pain

Weight Loss Is Important for People With Arthritis

walking
Photo by Blazej Lyjak (iStockphoto)

Weightbearing Joints Carry the Burden

Being overweight, even moderately, impacts weightbearing joints and can increase pain associated with arthritis. Research has shown that, during walking, the hips, knees, and ankles bear 3 to 5 times a person's total body weight. For every pound a person is overweight, 3 to 5 pounds of extra weight is added to each knee during walking. In contrast, a 10 pound weight loss essentially relieves 30 to 50 pounds of additional stress on the joints.

For people with arthritis, extra pounds burden the joints and lead to increased inflammation and pain. Osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis, is more common among overweight people. Studies have indicated that losing extra weight lowers the risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee. Losing weight can help slow the progression of arthritis, too.

Weight Loss Guidelines

Traditional height and weight charts are no longer used per the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for the definition and treatment of overweight and obesity. The assessment of overweight considers:

  • body mass index (BMI)
  • waist circumference
  • risk factors for diseases
  • conditions related to obesity

The BMI equals a person's weight in pounds divided by their height in inches squared, multiplied by 704.5. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 27.3 percent or more for women and 27.8 or more for men. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or more.

BMI of 30 is approximately equivalent to 30 pounds overweight.

Tips for Successful Weight Loss

When considering weight loss strategy and diet one must be reasonable and realistic. Fad diets and quick weight loss schemes are not only unrealistic but can be unhealthy, unbalanced, and deplete the body of essential nutrients.

An estimated 95% of dieters losing weight on quick weight loss diets gain back the weight within a year. The formula is simple. To lose weight, you must burn off calories by either:

  • decreasing food intake
  • increasing energy output through regular exercise

Moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week is recommended. Besides its contribution to weight loss, exercise:

  • strengthens joints and bones
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves the cardiovascular system

Walking a mile burns about 100 calories. Gardening for 30 to 45 minutes, raking leaves for 30 minutes and certain other ordinary activities burn up about 150 calories.

  • What Makes People With Arthritis Overweight?

Eat Regular Balanced Meals

It is recommended that people eat three healthy, balanced meals and avoid unhealthy between meal snacks. It is also recommended that you decrease dietary fat and be mindful of nutritional needs, such as:

  • calcium
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • vitamins D, B12, and E

Cutting caloric intake by 500 calories a day every day will lead to a loss of a pound a week.

A reasonable time frame for a 10% reduction in body weight is 6 months of treatment, with a loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Tips for Healthy Eating

Advice for healthy eating:

  • Eat only lean cuts of red meat in small quantities, or no red meat with poultry and fish as an alternative.
  • Trim away fat and skin.
  • Cook by steaming, grilling, baking, or microwaving; avoid frying.
  • Eat non-fat cheeses and yogurt; frozen yogurt instead of ice cream; drink skim or 1% milk.
  • Starchy foods are healthy and satisfying like bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta; don't add fattening sauces or butter.
  • Chips, cookies, cakes, pies should be replaced with fruits, vegetables, and lowfat convenience foods.
  • Use spices/herbs to flavor food rather than butter and heavy dressings.
  • Go light for dessert like angel food cake, gelatin, or fruit salad.
  • Drinking water is another helpful tip for those trying to lose weight. Drinking 6 to 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day in addition to other beverages is recommended. Drinking water is both healthy and helps to suppress the appetite.
  • 12 Tips to Start Eating Healthier

Balance Is Key to Successful Weight Loss

The key to successful weight loss is to find a balance between exercise and healthy diet which can contribute to calorie reduction -- but at a reasonable, undramatic pace so that the weight loss will be maintained through the new, healthy lifestyle.

  • Advice for People With Arthritis About Weight Loss

Sources:

Overweight and Obesity Guidelines Update, MedicineNet.com

Better Health Is Just Ten Pounds Away, Reader's Digest, October 1997.

Continue Reading