Can R.a. Cause Weight Gain?

Question

Asked by Pammy55

Can R.a. Cause Weight Gain?

Last January when my joints first started hurting I went from 110 pounds to 152 pounds and now I weigh 160 pounds.Can R.A. cause weight gain? I have always been thin-average weight of 115 pounds. I don't eat hardly any thing and I can not lose that 50 pounds that I gained. Any ideas how I can lose this weight? I am depressed as it is that I have R.A. AND THE WEIGHT GAIN MAKES ME REALLY DEPRESSED BECAUSE I HATE THE WAY I LOOK!

Answer

RA itself should not cause you to gain weight. However, when you have active RA and are hurting, you will move less, which can make you gain weight. As well, certain medications, like prednisone, can make you gain weight.

It is possible to lose weight with RA, although it'll probably take longer than if you didn't have the disease. This is not necessarily bad, as when you lose a lot of weight quickly, you tend to gain it back (it is where yo-yo dieting happens and it's bad for your body). It's important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet - not only will you RA benefit from you being as healthy as you can, but eating very little can actually make it harder to lose weight. I once heard it explained like this: when you eat very little, your body thinks you're living through a famine and therefore holds on to all the calories it gets, whereas if you feed your body on a regular basis (a recommended six small meals and snacks a day), it adjusts to the fact that there is always food available and therefore processes the calories instead of hanging onto them. You may wish to speak to your family doctor about a referral to a dietitian for help. As well, talk to your rheumatologist about the types of medications you're on and whether there is weightgain as a side effect. S/he may be able to help you and you can also ask for a referral to a physiotherapist who can help you develop a set of exercises that will also protect your joints.

In terms of exercise, go gentle. That means either exercising or walking in water (gentle on the joints, yet the natural resistance of the water provides good exercise) or look into yoga or tai chi. If you do choose yoga or tai chi, speak to the instructor about modifying the positions to protect your joints, but the great thing about these two types of exercise is that they're often called "meditation in motion" and may help your emotional health, as well.

Lastly, you can also check out HealthCentral's Diet and Exercise site for information and support. (click here).

Answered by Lene Andersen, MSW