Knee joint damage is a common problem for people who are overweight or have obesity. Carrying excess weight places extra pressure on your joints and cartilage. It can also be a risk factor for osteoarthritis if your body mass index is greater than 30.
Sometimes, having more body fat can lead to other chemical changes in our bodies that cause joint inflammation.
The good news is that losing a substantial amount of weight can slow down knee joint damage. A new study found that people who were overweight or obese who lost 5 to 10 percent of their body weight had lower rates of cartilage degeneration. The more body weight they lost, the slower their cartilage degenerated.
It’s an important finding because osteoarthritis – degenerative joint disease – affects more than 30 million adults nationwide. Severe joint pain, swelling, and stiffness can lead to disability. Some people can’t accomplish simple daily tasks or work. Severe cases may require joint replacement surgery, particularly for knee or hip osteoarthritis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not only did the researchers find that weight loss slowed articular cartilage degeneration, they also saw changes in the menisci, according to a news release from the Radiological Society of North America. Menisci are crescent-shaped fibrocartilage pads that protect and cushion the joint.
If you’re trying to lose weight by changing your diet and exercising, make sure you talk to your health provider first. While exercise can help improve arthritis symptoms, the type of exercise you should do may depend on your joint health. Walking swimming and water aerobics are popular forms of exercise for people with osteoarthritis. Your health provider may recommend specific types of exercise depending on which joints are affected and how stable they are.