What is the exact relationship between obesity and osteoarthritis? Why does it seem that overweight individuals are more likely to develop arthritic symptoms over time when compared to those who have a lower body mass index (BMI)? This is an important question if you have become concerned about your weight or you already happen to be experiencing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Let us take an in-depth look at the correlation between obesity and arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and Weight: An Inextricable Link
Why is obesity a risk factor for arthritis? One logical observation involves the sedentary nature of those who hold excess weight. As they are less likely to exercise on a regular basis, their joints can become stiff.
Another interesting factor involves the increased blood flow that often results from cardiovascular activities. This can help to reduce levels of inflammation around particularly vulnerable joints such as the knees, hips and ankles. Those who fail to exercise are therefore much more likely to develop osteoarthritis as they begin to age.
Physical Strain Upon the Joints
It is equally important to discuss the mechanics of arthritis. Studies have found that those who are only 10 kilograms overweight may place an additional strain of up to 30 kilograms upon the joints throughout their hips and legs.
This pressure will then result in excessive levels of wear and tear, eventually leading to a breakdown in the cartilage that cushions the joints and bones. If two bones begin to rub against one another, even mild symptoms of arthritis can be dramatically exacerbated.
We need to remember that fat is a chemically active compound. The issue here is that fat causes the body to release a wide spectrum of hormones that are related to inflammation. While this is often termed as “low-grade inflammation” it will once again make it much more likely to develop osteoarthritis in at least one portion of the body.
Furthermore, some osteoarthritis causes are related to the very same mechanical loads described in the previous section. When a joint experiences physical pressure, it will begin to release inflammatory chemicals in order to protect itself. This can easily lead to a positive feedback loop. Inflammation increases, causing further pain and limited mobility.
A Faster Progression of the Disease Itself
Obesity and osteoarthritis also share a common link in terms of how the disease will progress over time. As many individuals who carry excess weight may suffer from other conditions, long-term prognosis can be bleak. For example, this demographic is often much more likely to require corrective surgery such as knee or hip replacements.
Another issue is the fact that post-operative recovery times tend to be longer when compared to individuals of a normal weight. This further contributes to a sedentary lifestyle and in some instances, more weight will be gained.
Poor Dietary Habits, a main cause of osteoarthritis
We often associate unhealthy diets with weight gain. Although this is undoubtedly true, it should also be highlighted that poor eating habits are also less likely to contain the nutrients required to stave off arthritis symptoms. Some examples of these vitamins and minerals include:
- B-complex vitamins
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Also, highly processed foods (such as those often present within an imbalanced diet) can increase the presence of inflammation-related chemicals in the body. This can hasten the onset of arthritis and worsen any symptoms that may already be present.
What Solutions are Available?
It is already apparent that one of the best ways to possibly prevent osteoarthritis is to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. However, some individuals may be predisposed to hold excess weight due to genetic factors that are entirely out of their control. In this case, an even greater level of conscious effort is required. Other steps such as working with a nutritionist and seeking the advice of a personal trainer are likewise recommended.
The good news is that countless individuals who struggle with their weight have already benefited from the cutting-edge technology associated with the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon. This device will lessen cravings for unhealthy foods, limit your caloric intake and ultimately, it can help you lose weight over time.
As always, seek the advice of a professional if you have additional questions. It is always important to take the relationship between obesity and osteoarthritis seriously.