Friday, October 10, 2014

Obesity and Joint Pain

 Most of us are aware that carrying excess weight increases the strain on our weight-bearing joints.  The joints, like any other mechanical device, are built to hold a certain amount of weight.  To exceed their load capacity is to damage their optimal function.  For example, increasing the pressure on the cartilage (the cushion surface) wears it thin.

There is another mechanism for the destruction of joint health in the obese, and that is the change in joint position.  As a person gains weight, the increasing thigh mass forces the legs apart and moves the joints out of optimal alignment.  Not only are the joints bearing an extra load, but they are also meeting one another at improper angles, wearing down the cartilage at the point of maximum compression.

Another insult to the cartilage is the adipose (fatty) tissue itself.  Adipose tissue around joints causes inflammation which wears down cartilage and promotes osteoarthritis. 

A vicious cycle soon develops.  Due to joint pain, physical activity diminishes and weight tends to increase, causing further joint damage.  To break this cycle, the sufferer should see his or her health practitioner and health coach on ways to keep physically active and manage weight.

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