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How Your Weight Affects Your Joints

Much of your body weight rests on your joints, which are meeting places for bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If too much weight is constantly bearing down on your joints, they can begin to wear down. 

Dinash Yanamadula, MD, at Princeton Pain & Spine Institute in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, sees the damage that being overweight can cause to joints, especially knee joints, every day. Dr. Yanamadula is a leader in his field, and when it comes to joint pain, you can trust him to accurately diagnose your condition and develop the right course of treatment to help you return to a pain-free, fully functional life. 

In this blog, Dr. Yanamadula discusses how extra weight can affect your joints and what you can do to get healthy and reduce or eliminate your joint pain.

Added stress on your joints

One of the main ways extra weight can affect your joints is by overstressing them. Under normal conditions — which means being at a healthy weight and walking across level ground — your knees take 1.5 times your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, your knees feel 225 pounds of pressure with each step. 

Certain activities can make the numbers go up considerably. For instance, everytime you climb and descend a staircase, your knee joints support 2-3 times your body weight. And every time you squat, you add 4-5 times the pressure your knees are used to handling. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s the equivalent of 600-750 pounds if you squat down to pick up a penny.

Now, let’s factor in excess weight. If you carry 10 extra pounds, then you’re burdening your knee joints with an added 30-40 pounds of pressure as you walk normally on even ground. And, with each 10 extra pounds, another 30-40 pounds of pressure is added. As you can imagine, something’s gotta give, and it’s usually your joints. 

Inflamed joints

The pressure of extra body weight clearly affects your knee joints, but how might being overweight impact other joints, such as those in your hands, for instance? One word — inflammation.

Inflammation is a major cause of pain wherever it occurs in your body. And if you can’t get rid of it, it can cause long-term chronic pain. 

The purpose of inflammation is to rid your body of infection. When you’re well-nourished and at a healthy weight, your immune system is able to identify an infection and respond with inflammation that subsides along with the infection.

However, studies show that if you eat too much and are overweight, your body’s immune system can go into hyper mode and generate way too much inflammation, which can damage your organs, tissues, and joints.

What to do about your weight-related joint pain

If you have joint pain that’s caused by or made worse by being overweight, we have two pieces of good news for you.

Losing weight helps

First, you can reverse the problem. Losing weight, even a little bit, can significantly improve your joint pain symptoms. Remember how each extra 10 pounds adds 30-40 more pounds of stress on your knees? It works in reverse, too. 

And, if you already suffer from osteoarthritis, you can slow the progression of that disease by 50% by losing just 11 pounds of excess body weight. 

The closer you get to your ideal body weight, the less stress you will put on your knees and the less inflammation there will be to attack your joints.

Treatment helps

As you work to lose weight, exercise, and eat a healthy diet, you may still feel pain in your joints even once you reach your weight goal. That’s because sometimes the damage that has been done can remain.

Dr. Yanamadula can treat your painful joints throughout your weight-loss journey and beyond with various pain management techniques, such as:

If you’re overweight and have painful joints, there are ways to reduce the discomfort and manage your symptoms. To find out more about how we can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with Princeton Pain & Spine Institute today.

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