Your joints serve as the connection between two bones and are essential for supporting every move you make, from turning your head to raising your arm to walking. Because of the regular workout your joints endure every day, they’re under constant stress and vulnerable to the wear and tear that can lead to joint pain.
Carrying excess body weight places even more stress on your joints and may accelerate their breakdown. At Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, our pain specialist, Nichelle C. Renk, MD, wants you to know exactly how weight affects your joints and what you can do about.
The force of your weight
Many of the joints in your body, including your ankles, knees, hips, and spine, play a pivotal role in supporting your body weight. But certain joints may feel the stress a bit more than others.
When you get up from a sitting position or walk on a flat surface, the force of the weight on your knees is 3-5 times greater than your actual body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, it feels more like 450 to 750 pounds to your knees. Add an extra 50 pounds to your frame and it’s now 600 to 1,000 pounds.
That extra weight not only impacts your knees, but also your ankles, hips, and back. The extra weight and force can cause the cartilage and discs that provide the cushion in between the bones of your joints to wear away a lot faster. That means you have a higher risk of osteoarthritis at a much younger age.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint problem in the United States, according to a February 2013 article published in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, and a leading cause of disability. Rates of osteoarthritis are on the rise due to a combination of the aging population and the obesity epidemic.
Reducing the stress
Losing weight can reduce stress on your joints and lower your risk of joint problems that lead to debilitating pain and disability. Losing as little as 10-15 pounds can make a significant difference.
Dr. Renk specializes in nutrition and wellness and can devise a personalized nutrition plan to help you get to a healthier weight. Her plan includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups that keep your body functioning at its best without feeling hungry all the time.
Managing joint pain
If you’re already experiencing joint pain, losing any excess body weight is a good place to start. However, we can also develop a treatment plan to help you manage the pain, too. Dr. Renk works one-on-one with you to develop the most effective treatment plan for your joint pain, which may include:
- Lifestyle modification
- Physical therapy
- Nutritional supplements
- Pain psychology
- Acupuncture and other forms of alternative therapy
Dr. Renk also offers advanced joint injections as a treatment option to help manage joint pain. Some examples are Zilretta®, Durolane®, genicular cooled radiofrequency ablation (RFA), and more.
Alpenglow Pain & Wellness will also soon be offering platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injections as a treatment option to help manage joint pain. PRP and stem cells are a form of regenerative medicine that may support the healing of any underlying joint damage that’s causing your pain.
Excess body weight is linked to many chronic health issues, including joint pain. For comprehensive management of your joint pain from a physician who takes a natural approach, call our office in Anchorage, Alaska, or use the online booking tool to make an appointment.