Does My Body Weight Cause Joint Pain?

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

Overweight and obesity are known to pose significant health adversity. Risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes increase steadily with increasing BMI. But the twinge of joint pain that you experienced every once in a while might be well connected to your body weight as well, and surprisingly, it’s not limited to your weight-bearing joint only.

How body weight affect joints

Our joint play an important role in allowing body movement across a large range of motion. Have you ever wondered on how much weight does your joint sustain from each of the bodily movement that you takes? When walking on a ground level, the force on your knees is said to be equivalent to 1 and a half times of your body weight. That means an 80 kg man will exert 120 kg of pressure on his knees with each step.

With an inclination, the pressure becomes even greater. The force on each knee is 2 to 3 times your body weight as you climb and going down the stairs while squatting to tie a shoelace or pick up a dropped item exert as much as 4 to 5 times of your body weight!

Given the substantial amount of pressure exerted, increased risk of osteoarthritis in overweight or obese individuals are often time seen as due to extra stress on the weight-bearing joints. However, the effect of body weight on joint pain is not primarily due to physical exertion. Further research has now highlighted on how inflammation, rather than physical exertion is discovered to be the vital cause of accelerated arthritis in excess body weight.

Obesity and Arthritis

As osteoarthritis occurs in both weight-bearing and non weight-bearing joints, systemic inflammation provides a better explanation of how excess body weight contributes to it. This also explains why excess weight also contributes to rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that creates inflammation in the body and leads to joint pain.

Inflammatory chemicals in fat are discovered to impact the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. This includes adipokines, that are secreted by fat cells and promoted inflammation. This inflammatory factors associated with weight gain explain why other non weight-bearing joint such as the hands joint can be affected by arthritis as well.

Relieving joint pain by losing weight

Losing a few pounds can go a long way toward reducing the pressure on your joints and protecting them from inflammation. Research has shown that a sustained 10 to 15-pound weight loss in obese young people can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.

But increasing physical activity may be challenging especially if you are suffering from joint pain. Stepping up your exercise alone is also not enough to help you lose weight. Hence, start with light exercise and learn to manage your calories intake to lose weight and improve your health.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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