Knee Osteoarthritis and Obesity: are they Related?

Knee osteoarthritis or knee arthrosis is one of the most common joint diseases that usually arise as you reach old age. Why this happens isn’t really clear. However, several studies have established a close relationship between being overweight and osteoarthritis.
Knee Osteoarthritis and Obesity: are they Related?

Last update: 10 November, 2019

Arthrosis is a rheumatic disorder that develops as a degeneration of the articular cartilage. It’s a disease of the joints that’s very common among elderly people and often frequently affects certain joints. This is the case of knee osteoarthritis, one of the body’s most vulnerable joints.

In this dreaded condition, a cartilaginous degeneration occurs in the knee. This will have a series of harmful consequences on our daily lives. The following article will explain the effects that knee osteoarthritis has over our lives.

Knee osteoarthritis: causes and symptoms

The cause of osteoarthritis is not very clear. Some believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can cause it. Still, several studies have pinpointed that people at risk include those of advanced age and subjects predisposed to suffer from this condition. Among the environmental factors most frequently associated with osteoarthritis, the following stand out:

  • The succession of injuries in the same joint
  • Age
  • Overweight
  • Too intense physical exercise, especially when practiced without proper planning, warm up, and technique

The main symptom associated with knee osteoarthritis is a pain, which persists even at rest. When we start a physical activity, the discomfort gives up for a few minutes, but progressively reappears with the activity.

Other symptoms include stiffness, joint numbness, and tingling, deformity of the joint and, finally, loss of functionality. Still, acute pain is the main reason people suffering from arthritis find it almost unbearable. That’s why patients should consult experts to prevent and treat this condition.

Knee osteoarthritis and being overweight

Overweight people and obesity are very common in Western countries, due to bad habits that have been promoted by fast food chains. One of the consequences of obesity is articular cartilage degeneration, as each joint has to work harder to support the weight.

In particular, the knee is a very delicate joint, vital to almost every move our body makes. The knee holds the weight of almost the entire body, along with the hips. Therefore, if we add a higher load, we would be taxing the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Many people aren’t aware of it, but obesity puts the body in a state of chronic inflammation. Obesity causes the release of pro-inflammatory substances called cytokines to the bloodstream. These substances can further damage the joint, and thus cause osteoarthritis to progress even in a young patient.

Therefore, a disease that should only affect our bodies when we’re old could start developing 40 years in advance due to us being overweight.

I have knee osteoarthritis, what should I do now?

However, once we’re diagnosed with osteoarthritis, we must bear in mind that it’s a degenerative disease. This means that it’ll eventually get worse and not better. What we can do is delay the progress of the pathology to enjoy a better quality of life.

The best way to fight osteoarthritis is to avoid being overweight. This way, a reduction of body fat is clearly related to a lessening of the symptoms (both pain and stiffness). Plus, it slows the progression of osteoarthritis. To treat obesity there are many medical and surgical alternatives.

Another way to prevent the progression of arthrosis is to avoid all types of high-impact joint exercises, especially those performed with poor techniques. It’s also highly recommended for us to follow a joint strengthening plan with a professional. This will improve the symptomatology and the evolution of the disease.

A commonly recommended exercise to strengthen the knees is squats, but you have to make sure you’re doing them properly. When done wrong, squats can cause more bad than good in the long run. Make sure you go to a professional for proper technique and supervision when training.

Knee osteoarthritis

What to do when pain appears

As every arthritis patient can tell you, there will be days in which the pain is almost unbearable. These peaks are completely normal, and doctors often recommend taking analgesic drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.

However, as we can see in this article, osteoarthritis is frequently related to obesity. Thus, the pain won’t simply go away by taking some pills and waiting. You need to change your life for your body to feel better.

But that’s not all, obesity is also related to hypertension and diabetes. Because of this, even if the pain is acute, a patient might not be able to take analgesics. Many times analgesics are contraindicated because of their possible cardiotoxic effect. In these cases, analgesics of the family of opioid drugs are usually prescribed.

You shouldn’t mix up cardiovascular disease meds with other pills, so always consult your doctor before taking any medication to alleviate the discomfort.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.