Lose Weight For Your Knees Sake
Being overweight can place extra pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away. Losing weight can help save your knees, relieve pain and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is one of the major causes of disability worldwide. More than half of U.S. adults age 75 and older have osteoarthritis. Osteoarhrtitis is the wear-and-tear form of the joint disease in which cartilage thins and wears away. Obesity too is like an epidemic worldwide.
What care can be taken at home?
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, the patient can try to prevent symptoms from getting worse by the following:
- The joints should be kept active by doing muscle-building exercises
- Healthy diet is necessary not only to shed extra weight but also to remain fit
- The patient should follow the doctor's prescription seriously
- Kneepads can be used
Researchers from the University of California, collected data on 640 obese and overweight people who had mild osteoarthritis or were at risk of it. The patients, average age 69, were part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a nationwide U.S. study on the prevention and treatment of knee arthritis.
The participants were put into three groups: those who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, those who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight, and those whose weight remained stable.
Over 48 months, the researchers found that patients with 5 percent weight loss had lower rates of cartilage degeneration than patients whose weight remained stable. Among patients who lost 10 percent of their body weight, cartilage degeneration slowed even more. "Our study shows that a lifestyle intervention such as weight loss can slow the process of knee joint degeneration in patients at risk for and with osteoarthritis," said lead researcher Dr. Alexandra Gersing. "Therefore, it may slow the worsening of symptoms, such as pain and disability," he said.
Weight loss also slowed degeneration of the menisci, the crescent-shaped cartilage pads that protect and cushion the knee joint, Gersing said. Weight loss seems to be protective for the knee joint.
Not everyone agrees the issue is that clear-cut, however. Dr. Matthew Hepinstall, a New York City orthopedic surgeon, said although it's likely losing weight slows osteoarthritis, it still hasn't been proven. "Weight loss is considered an important part of osteoarthritis management in patients who are overweight, he said.
The report was published online in the journal Radiology.
(With inputs from HealthDay News)
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