In the last decade or two, incidents of joint pains have increased rapidly and while it has been associated with the natural process of aging, other underlying causes like lifestyle changes have not been taken seriously. Lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food choices have to lead to rising cases of obesity that inadvertently put pressure on your joints.
At Saishree Hospital, we have been providing the best knee replacement surgery in Pune and relieving patients of the chronic pain they have been experiencing for years. Apart from surgeries, our doctors recommend maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis as being overweight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints.
Reasons why weight management is important in ensuring good joint health:
The joints in our body that hold us up when we stand or carry the weight of our body are called “weight-bearing joints” and the primary joints are hips, knees, and ankles.
The force on the knees is equivalent of 1 1/2 times our body weight so naturally with each step, there is more burden on the knees, especially when we go up and down the stairs, go for a run or even do simple tasks like tie a shoelace.
Obesity accelerates the wear on the joints and spine. In particular, osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis) of the knees is increased. Obese people have difficulty squatting, running and climbing stairs. Bio-mechanically this is explained because the force on one’s knees between the patella (kneecap) and its articulation with the rest of the knee is about three times your body weight with walking. When these other activities are undertaken, the forces can reach six to 10 times body weight.
Being overweight increases the joint reaction force within the joint and this leads to damage to the cartilage and eventual arthritic changes on the joint. It can cause decreased range of motion, stiffness, pain, swelling, and warmth. Obesity can also result in increased inflammatory factors which can cause your joints and the surrounding tissues to be painful.
A biochemical reaction that might result in knee pain in those who are overweight is called leptin which is a hormone that acts on the brain to regulate food intake and body weight. Obese people tend to build resistance to leptin, having a hard time feeling full. Researchers have found that people who have high leptin levels, may have more chances of developing arthritis, bone spurs, joint swelling, cartilage defects, meniscus tears, and bone swelling.
The hip joints also play a crucial role in the proper functioning of our body as it bears the weight of the entire upper body and also helps support our back to maintain balance. Excessive body weight results in extra pressure on the hip joint causing pain in the hip joint. Due to the extra burden, the density of the bones reduces resulting in weaker hip joints and making them unable to withstand the weight of the entire upper body and causing extreme pain.
Incorporating physical activities into our daily routine will keep the joints robust and functioning while improving the overall health. But exercises cannot alone keep obesity at bay and one needs to work on their diet plan to keep the knees up and running.
Instead of jumping on a proper diet, one can start with cutting back on both fat and total calories. Along with limiting dietary fat, one also needs to reduce overall calorie intake to reach the weight loss goal.
Simultaneously, one needs to gradually increase physical activities and progress it to 30 minutes of daily routine. If one is unable to practice any physical activity due to severe pain, one can consult their doctor to know about the effective ways to include activities that are easy on the joint pains.