Good News… Weight Loss Can Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain

Understand the symptoms and risks of Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis with an estimated 27 million Americans affected by it. In Motion talked to M. Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, director of the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center at Cleveland Clinic, to learn more about it.

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IM: First of all what is OA and where does it affect a person?

OA is the most common joint disorder and the most common form of arthritis. As we age, the cartilage – the tissue that cushions the bones in our joints – breaks down and wears away and bones can begin to rub together and cause pain and loss of function. It commonly affects the knee, hip, spine and hands.

IM: Who is most at risk for developing OA?

While it is often associated with age, more than half of those with arthritis are younger than 65 and nearly 60 percent are women. And many studies have highlighted that the biggest risk factor for developing OA is being overweight or obese.

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IM: What amount of weight would you need to lose to reduce the chances of having OA?

The specific amount of weight an individual must lose to improve health outcomes is not certain, however, studies have found that for every 11-pound weight loss, you can reduce your risk of OA by 50 percent.

IM: Can you tell us more about the study you are conducting on OA?

We are excited to launch a new study that assesses how to optimize non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritis. We will be studying how best to use viscosupplementation (injections) and physical therapy for pain management and to improve function of knee OA.

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IM: What can people do to lessen the impact of OA?

Losing weight can improve your symptoms. Here are the four basic things you can do:

  • Know your BMI (body mass index). BMI is measured by dividing your weight by height. (Your doctor can help you with this.)
  • Measure your waist circumference which can be an indicator of health risks. For men, it is considered too high if it is greater than 40 inches (102 cm), and for women, it is considered too high if it is greater than 35 inches (88 cm).
  • Make at least moderate physical activity a regular part of your day, progressing to 30 minutes or more most days.
  • Look at your diet and be sure to focus on eating a low-fat, low sugar, high fiber diet. If you need help, work with your doctor or a nutritionist.

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