Obesity and Joint Pain

Obesity and Joint PainObesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.

Understanding Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Aching and soreness in the joints, especially during and following movement
  • Pain following long periods of inactivity
  • Stiffness in the joints following rest, such as in the morning
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Bony growths protruding from the joint

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Joints are lined with a protective substance called cartilage that prevents bones from rubbing against each-other as you move. This allows your movement to be easy and pain-free. As cartilage wears down, bones begin to grind on one another. When severe, this can make using that joint extremely painful and may lead to immobility.

Inflammation in the joints accelerates the wear on cartilage and makes it more likely that bones will rub against one another.

Factors that increase your risk for osteoarthritis include:

  • Advanced age
  • Obesity
  • Injury or trauma

Osteoarthritis commonly develops with age, but it is not a symptom of aging. Arthritis a chronic disease, and should never be accepted as a natural element of aging.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Joint pain is frequently addressed through a combination of lifestyle changes, medication and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgical joint replacement may be required.

Losing weight will often alleviate joint pain, especially joint pain that develops in the knees and ankles. Even losing a small amount of weight helps to alleviate the pressure on the joints, and can help reduce swelling and joint pain.

Additional lifestyle changes that may reduce joint pain include:

  • Making dietary changes to reduce swelling in the body
  • Participating in regular low-impact activity
  • Stretching regularly
  • Avoiding standing or sitting for an extensive period of time

Many people also find some relief from joint pain by wearing supportive gear, such as knee or wrist braces. This sort of protective gear is designed to alleviate pressure on the joints, thus helping to reduce pain.

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