Your knee is an engineering marvel designed to move your body, while absorbing the extreme shock caused by your feet hitting the ground.
Whether you’re moving or standing still, your knees also support your upper body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress your knees bear. That makes your weight a significant factor in preventing, causing, and relieving knee pain.
There’s no doubt that losing weight eases any existing pain, but it does more than that. Dropping your weight goes a long way toward preventing arthritis and painful knee problems like bursitis, tendonitis, sprains, and strains.
Our team at Florida Pain Medicine helps patients get relief from all types of knee pain. We also specialize in arthritis management, where losing weight has an important role in slowing joint degeneration, easing arthritis pain, and keeping your knees moving.
How weight affects your knee joint
Though your knee joint is built to withstand stress, two factors change the dynamics and make you vulnerable to pain. The first is years of repeated bending and movement, which wears down the cartilage responsible for absorbing shock and redistributing stress.
The second factor is gaining weight. Carrying extra weight tips the balance, causing and accelerating joint damage. Carrying too much weight affects your knee joints by:
Intensifying the pressure
Did you know that the pressure placed on your knees is three to six times your body weight? In other words, gaining 10 pounds places 30 to 60 pounds of additional pressure on your knees. You can imagine the overall stress for every step you take — and the pressure increases when you run or jump.
Losing one pound takes an estimated four pounds of pressure off your knees, which means a small amount of weight loss can ease your pain. However, the more weight you lose, the more pain relief you’ll have and the more your knee health improves.
Breaking down cartilage
Your knee has two types of cartilage: articular cartilage (to protect the ends of bones) and the meniscus, an extra layer of cartilage between the bones. The meniscus absorbs shock, stabilizes the joint, and protects the articular cartilage.
Years of repetitive movement combined with the excessive pressure of being overweight accelerates wear and tear on both types of cartilage. As the articular cartilage breaks down, the bones become exposed and rub together when you move, causing osteoarthritis.
You can slow down cartilage degeneration and prevent the pain and stiffness of arthritis by losing weight. For example, women who lose just 11 pounds may lower their risk for arthritis by 50%.
Excess fat contributes to inflammation throughout your body. Fat cells release substances that promote inflammation, which may cause knee joint inflammation or aggravate inflammation caused by arthritis.
Losing weight eases knee pain
Losing weight relieves your knee pain by reversing the problems mentioned above. As your weight drops, your knee sustains less pressure, inflammation goes down, and your risk for injuries and joint damage decreases.
Though you can’t reverse existing joint damage, dropping extra pounds slows or stops the ongoing cartilage degeneration.
Delaying osteoarthritis is important because it isn’t just an age-related problem. Nearly 7% of people aged 18-45 and one-third of those aged 45-65 are diagnosed with arthritis.
Get expert care for your knee pain
Our team offers comprehensive care for knee pain. In addition to conventional medical care, physical therapy, and weight loss management, our expertise includes today’s most advanced regenerative procedures that promote healing and interventional therapies targeting the source of your pain.
Don’t wait to seek help for knee pain. Call Florida Pain Medicine, or request an appointment online today.