How you should lose weight to protect your knees

written by Meena Azzollini

close up of knees of an African American male

Credit:123RF

As we age, the cushioning between the joints of our bones goes through wear and tear. When this happens the bones in that joint rub against each other and don’t have much of a cushioning due to the worn out cartilage in-between which often causes discomfort, pain, swelling, stiffness, inability to move and bone spur growth, This condition is known as Osteoarthritis.

The knee joint is a common site for osteoarthritis particularly in obese people making obesity a major risk factor for osteoarthritis – a condition which affects more than 2.1 million Australians as of 2014-2015.

The researchers found that cartilage degeneration was significantly lower in the weight loss group compared to the control group. But this was only true for participants who lost weight through diet and exercise or diet alone.

In many people osteoarthritis of the knee progresses to a point where they need a complete knee replacement as once the cartilage is lost it cannot be reversed.

As a result it is important that for people at risk of osteoarthritis or for those who show early signs of the disease that they slow down the progression of cartilage degeneration.

Weight loss has shown to do just that in overweight and obese people but so far it is unclear which method of weight loss is optimal and makes a significant difference.

Researchers from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) examined the degeneration of cartilage and joint abnormalities in overweight and obese people who maintained a stable weight and who lost weight through different regimens.

The researchers examined 760 men and women with a body mass index of greater than 25 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a nationwide research study focused on the prevention and treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

The patients were either at risk of osteoarthritis or had mild to moderate osteoarthritis.

The participants were divided into two groups of 380 people. One group lost weight and the other group – a control group – did not lose any weight.

The weight loss group was further divided into three groups based on method of weight loss – diet and exercise, diet alone and exercise alone.

The researchers used MRI to examine to measure cartilage degeneration, before the study, at 48 months and then at 96 months.

The researchers found that cartilage degeneration was significantly lower in the weight loss group compared to the control group. But this was only true for participants who lost weight through diet and exercise or diet alone.

Although the participants who only exercised lost as much weight as the participants who dieted alone or used diet and exercise to lose weight, the weight loss through exercise alone showed no significant difference in cartilage degeneration compared to the group that did not lose any weight.

This shows that although weight loss in important, it is even more important to lose weight the right way to slow done the degeneration of the cartilage in the knee joint. The way to do that is through a regimen of diet and exercise or even diet alone.

Source: Radiological Society of North America


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Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!