Weight loss for arthritis

Weight loss for arthritis is an important subject because obesity causes degenerative joint disease.

Part I: Obesity and arthritis ...

Part II: Weight loss for arthritis ...

Effective Treatment For Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful joint disease common among the elderly and those who are significantly overweight. In fact, 70 percent of people over age 65 are affected by OA, and obese folk are at a particularly high risk of developing painful knees.

The total number of OA sufferers is likely to increase as the world's population continues to age and put on excess pounds. While not much can be done about growing older, being overweight is an important risk factor for a disease that can and should be addressed.

Why Obesity Causes OA: The Connection 

Weight loss for arthritis

There are two ways in which obesity is thought to increase the risk for developing OA:

  1. The first theory is that obesity leads to the breakdown of joint cartilage simply because excess weight puts too much force on the joints. The cartilage damage then leads to the development of OA. This theory is a plausible explanation for why knee OA is more frequently linked to obesity than is hip OA; the knee is under more concentrated force than the hip. This theory does not offer an explanation for why obesity appears to also increase the risk for hand OA, however, as the hand joint does not bear any weight.
  2. This leads to the second theory, which states that excess weight results in secretion of a circulating factor that affects all the body's joints—hands, knees, and hips—and causes cartilage to break down. This theory offers an explanation for how obesity can cause OA even in non-weight-bearing joints, like shoulders and hands.

Adipose tissue acts an Endocrine Organ

This theory finds support in the discovery of adipose tissue's role as an endocrine organ. The fat tissue secretes substances that are present at higher levels in the bodies of people who are overweight or obese.

Adipose cells generate peptides that are responsible for causing inflammatory processes, a chronic problem observed among the obese.

This constant low grade inflammation may damage articular cartilage, eventually leading to a diagnosis of OA.

Can Weight Loss Improve OA Symptoms?

Weight loss for arthritis

In 2007, a meta-analysis was performed on data from all the existing studies on the effect of weight loss on OA. This review of prior research was conducted in order to discover whether weight loss improved pain and function in people with knee OA. The findings showed that functional disability was indeed improved as a result of a moderate reduction in weight.

A loss of 5-10% of body weight was enough for overweight OA patients to experience relief of their symptoms.

The study recommended weight loss at the rate of 1.1 to 3.3 pounds per week, which can be achieved through several existing weight loss programs. For example, the clinically tested and medically designed Medifast or Nutrisystem weight management programs, complemented with the possible benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements, may result in an ideal weight loss rate of 3 pounds per week and substantial decrease in articular pain.

Can Weight Loss Prevent OA?

Weight loss for arthritis

Among men in the Framingham OA study [2], losing weight was found to have a significant effect on the chances of developing OA of the knee. Specifically, the possibility of developing knee OA later in life would be decreased by more than 21% if obese men lost enough weight to be considered only overweight, and overweight men lost enough of their excess body fat to reach a normal weight.

The investigators noted that, if the obese men were able to lose enough additional weight to fall into the normal weight range, the decrease in the chances of presenting OA symptoms would be even greater.

If women managed to lose enough weight to drop down a category — from obese to overweight or from overweight to normal — development of knee OA would decrease by an impressive 33%.

In Summary @ Weight loss for arthritis

Research to date has not provided us with a clear-cut scientific explanation of the relationship between obesity, weight loss, and OA. But despite the questions that remain, we do have evidence that being overweight results in a significantly increased risk for developing OA of the hands, knees, and hips.

Whether this is due to extra stress on the joints or secretion of bioactive substances by adipose tissue, it is clear that weight loss, in combination with glucosamine nutraceuticals, should be considered an important part of any treatment plan for OA.

Weight loss reduces the disability, pain, and stiffness of osteoarthritis, and may also play an essential role in preventing the later development of OA in obese young people.

About the Author

Dr Matthew Constas, PhD, is a biology researcher who has developed a special interest in obesity and its relationship to diseases such as osteoarthritis. He enjoys providing information to the public through his blog, where he reviews weight loss programs and offers Medifast promo discounts and Nutrisystem discounts, two clinically evaluated meal replacement plans.


1. Obesity and inflammation--targets for OA therapy. Iannone F, et al. Curr Drug Targets. 2010 May;11(5):586-98.

2. Comparing two low-energy diets for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis symptoms in obese patients: a pragmatic randomized clinical trial. Riecke BF, et al. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2010 Feb 17.

Obesity and arthritis is part I

Obesity and arthritis are strongly linked.


Uncomfortable though the question may be, knowing whether you are simply overweight ( Body Mass Index 25-30) or obese (BMI above 30) is important.

It's not just about osteoarthritis, but heart disease, stroke, diabetes and a host of other very serious, painful and disabling diseases that await obese persons. Is your BMI over 30, or perish the thought over 35?

Type BMI into Google.

Hummus and high protein foods

Hummus is a simple high protein food to make at home.

There has long been interest in high protein diets, since Dr Adkins and probably earlier, some with low carbohydrate, some with low fat. All have merit but need to be treated with caution as weight loss for arthritis.

Both carbohydrates (such as in apples) and fatty acids (such as in fish and the fruit oils: olive oil benefits  and avocado fat ...) should be regularly in the diet... extreme low fat diets especially are associated with serious neurological diseases. 

There is increasing research proving that a diet high in animal protein is associated with many serious disease. To raise the protein in your diet, think rather of hummus or tofu ...

Authentic hummus recipe from chickpeas

Vitamin B9, homocysteine and arthritis

It's complex biochemistry but there is much research coming out that an even worse enemy in the body than high LDL cholesterol is a toxic break down product of protein metabolism called homocysteine.

In the normal situation, homocysteine is rapidly metabolised in the presence of several vitamins and minerals, one of which is vitamin B9, folate. One of the consequences of high homocysteine is arthritis.

The break down of homocysteine, in the prevention of arthritis and many other diseases, is totally dependent on high folate levels.

Useful links  @ Weight loss for arthritis

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.