It’s a well-known fact that carrying around excess weight – be it a little or a lot – puts us at an increased risk of developing things like diabetes and heart disease. However, a lesser known tidbit of information is that that excess weight can also put a severe strain on various parts of our bodies. The “body part” that we’re going to focus on today is the knees.
Yep, that’s right – the knees.
Osteoarthritis – a disease that progressively destroys the cartilage that serves as a “shock absorber” within our joints – is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. That’s because, as the cartilage in an affected joint is worn down, the joint becomes stiff and painful and may even result in loss of movement.
So, why, you ask, did we decide to focus on the correlation between weight loss and knee pain?
Well, because for those individuals who are suffering from knee pain (due to an ailment like osteoarthritis) the benefits of losing even a relatively small amount of weight can have an enormous impact on the amount of stress your knees are NOT having to endure as you walk through your day.
How is this possible?
Well, it has to do with the fact that our knees bear the brunt of our weight and take a beating, day in and day out. And, since obesity is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to osteoarthritis of the knee, it makes sense that the reduction of weight would result in a decrease in the severity of symptoms associated with the arthritic joint. A one-pound loss in weight translates into a cumulative reduction of over 4,800 pounds per mile walked. That means that, if you were to lose 10 pounds, EACH of your knees would have roughly 48,000 pounds LESS of compressed load to deal with for every mile walked.
So, while “ten pounds” may not seem like a lot – especially if you’re working toward an overall goal that’s much more than that – it’s important to understand that your body will start feeling the effects pretty darned quick. When you think about the thousands of steps that we take each and every day (which has become incredibly easy to monitor via the use of fitness trackers like FitBit, etc.) it’s easy to see how reducing the amount of pressure applied to the knee(s) can result in less pain and, hopefully, increased mobility.
If knee pain is something that you’re dealing with, please know that we can help! Give Prairie Orthopaedics a call, come in for a consultation, and learn how our team of orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists can help to reduce your knee pain and increase your quality of life!