We may occasionally think about how our body weight could affect our knee joint pain, however may not realize just how traumatic the effects of just adding 10 pounds to our frame can be. Understandably added body weight places an extra load on the joints which increases stress on joint surfaces and may accelerate the breakdown of the cartilage. However did you know that for every extra pound of body weight there is approximately 4 extra pounds of force placed on the knee joint while walking. So 10 pounds of added body weight increases joint forces in the knee to 40 pounds with each step! Now multiply that by 5,000 steps that you may take each day…Wow! That’s 20,000 pounds of accumulative forces that the knee joints must withstand each day. It is no wonder that persons who are in the top 20% for body weight have up to 10 times the risk of knee osteoarthritis compared to those in the lowest 20%.
What if you walk down a hill…how does the joint forces compare to walking on level ground? Those joint forces are now 3-4 times the forces of walking on level surfaces. This makes us ponder how wearing high-heeled shoes might affect the knee joint? In fact knee joint forces in women wearing high-heeled shoes compared to walking barefoot are 23% greater.
So, if being overweight increases the development and progression of osteoarthritis of the knee…could weight loss potentially reverse these effects? Well for women of average height, for every 11 pound weight loss the risk of knee osteoarthritis dropped by about 50%. Researchers have demonstrated that a 10% reduction in body weight in overweight elderly men decreased risk of OA by 21.5% and 33% in women. Other studies have shown that a similar weight loss in those overweight with knee osteoarthritis decreased pain by 30% and improved function by 24%.
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