Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition that affects many, particularly older individuals. The most commonly affected joints are the knees and hips.
There is an implied benefit of decreased body mass on the symptoms of OA. And while decreased weight and therefore decreased direct loading to the joint surface may be one proposed mechanism by which weight loss could improve symptoms, reduced body fat levels may also lead to a decrease in the inflammatory states that can influence symptomology in this condition.
A recent survival analysis (basically a statistical study of the time taken until a specific event occurs) showed that body weight change had a linear relationship with the risk of knee and hip replacement.
Every 1% of body weight loss was associated with a 2% reduced risk of knee replacement and a 3% reduced risk of hip replacement in at-risk individuals and those with pain at baseline. Interestingly, the average BMI of those studied was 28, which, whilst indicating overweight individuals, doesn’t indicate an obese population, increasing the validity of these findings to common OA patients.
Bodyweight is a clearly modifiable risk factor that for the most part is associated with other health benefits, and as such should be considered a priority strategy in those experiencing lower limb OA symptoms.
It is, however, important that this weight loss is achieved in combination with a resistance training program in order to preserve muscle, as a decrease in muscle mass in itself may negatively impact musculoskeletal pain, as well as other health outcomes.
If you are experiencing hip or knee pain, or have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, come and see us and let us help you with your management plan.
Salis, Zubeyir, Amanda Sainsbury, Helen I Keen, Blanca Gallego, and Xingzhong Jin. “Weight loss is associated with reduced risk of knee and hip replacement: a survival analysis using Osteoarthritis Initiative data.” International Journal of Obesity 46, no. 4 (2022): 874-884.
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