The Link Between Obesity and Arthritis

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

Obesity-Related Conditions

The risk factors of being overweight or obese are well-documented. As Americans pack on the pounds with unprecedented haste, the health issues they may encounter have been given ample space in the spotlight.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

Most of the health risks that have been related are of a most serious nature, and any one of them can be fatal. But people are hard to convince, hence the continued spiralling rate of obesity in the United States.

So if fatal is not your cup of tea, and your preference is nagging discomfort or persistent pain, then obesity has something to offer you, too. Obesity can cause arthritis. What is Arthritis?

[Arthritis is a cluster of over 100 medical conditions] that affects almost 46 million adults and 300,00 children in the United States alone. The commonality between these 100 plus conditions is that they all affect the musculoskeletal system and most especially the joints.

Joint problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to cartilage. This damage can cause joint instability and visible deformities that can interfere with walking, climbing stairs, and other daily activities.

Arthritis and Obesity

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that obese adults who have arthritis are 44% more likely to be physically inactive than obese people who do not have the disease. The discomfort caused by arthritis has been cited as an interference for engaging in programs of physical activity.

The Centers for Disease Control further noted that:

  1. women were more likely than men to have arthritis and obesity,

  2. older age was a risk factor for both arthritis and obesity, and

  3. non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to have both arthritis and obesity than other ethnic groups.

The Link Between Joint Pain and Obesity

Whereas our joints carry our body weight, the more a person weighs the more difficult it becomes for joints to work properly. Even moderate changes in body weight have a big effect because the joint forces in both the hips and knees increase three-fold that weight with average walking. Ten pounds of additional weight translates into thirty pounds of extra weight felt by the knees.

There is a strong association between body weight and arthritis. People with a high body mass index often get arthritis at a younger age.

The solution to resolving this is to simply lose some weight. Even modest weight loss can make a big difference for the relief of joint pain. It has been discovered that a loss of only eleven pounds will decrease the risk of developing arthritis in the knees by 50%.

Striving for weight loss is most advantageous. Should the need for joint replacement present due to obesity-related arthritis, obesity can complicate joint replacement surgery and increase the possibility for infection, blood clots, and dislocation after hip replacement.

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website MyBariatricLife.org, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.