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Osteoarthritis Pain Linked to Obesity

Osteoarthritis ObesityA study reports that overweight and obese people suffering from knee arthritis tend to experience more pain than slimmer people with the same extent of joint damage. Several studies have already found that overweight people, especially women, have more chances of developing severe osteoarthritis (OA). The new study goes a step further and reports that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) may more pain than people with normal weight having the same amount of arthritis-related damage.
The new study was aimed at linking OA, pain severity and adult BMI to find the root cause of the pain. The lead researcher, an anthropologist at San Jose State University in California, found that arthritis was a common ailment among populations, past and present, no matter where they existed.

The medical health records of about 5,000 people of age 45-79 years were studied for 4 years. It found that

  • About 1,390 participants had already been diagnosed with joint disease
  • About 3,284 participants were not diagnosed with the disease but were at risk of developing it
  • About 122 participants did not have this disease or any other related risk factor

The x-rays of the participants were also analyzed to identify the severity of joint damage. For each category of arthritis severity, pain scores were considerably higher among obese patients than people of normal weight.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that more than 14% of adults in the U.S. over age 25 have some form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage around joints of the hands, neck, knees and hips begin to wear down, causing the bones to rub together. This causes pain when walking and performing other every day activities. Being overweight increases the stress on the joints of the knees and makes the condition more painful. Certain hormones associated with obesity also increase the severity of the disease.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease the effects of which are irreversible. However, it is obvious that weight loss is a critical factor in pain management associated with the condition. The study recommends that physicians should recommend effective weight loss strategies rather than resorting to surgery. Other alternative treatment modalities for this joint disease include physical therapy, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. At leading healthcare centers, specialists offer all of these effective non-surgical modalities and more to treat musculoskeletal conditions.

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