Understanding Arthritis: The Benefits of Weight Management


What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition that involves inflammation and tenderness in one or more joints. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to refer to joint pain or joint disease; more than 100 types of arthritis have been identified. Examples include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout. General symptoms of arthritis include pain, aching, swelling and stiffness in one or more joints.

Benefits of weight management

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 54 million adults in the United States have arthritis, and 39 million of those with arthritis are overweight or obese. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight provides numerous advantages, including the reduction of arthritis symptoms.

  • Reduces pressure on the joints
    Excess weight places increased pressure on the joints. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight eases added pressure on the joints, resulting in less wear and tear. For example, weight loss of just 1 pound results in a 4 pound reduction of pressure on the knee.
  • Eases pain and inflammation
    Body fat releases inflammation-producing chemicals in the body; therefore, weight loss naturally reduces inflammation. Less inflammation results in less pain.
  • Slows progression
    Research shows that weight loss can slow the progression of cartilage degeneration associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Increases the possibility of remission
    Studies show that obesity decreases the possibility of achieving and sustaining remission of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis; therefore, losing excess weight increases the possibility of achieving and sustaining remission.
  • Decreases the risk of other medical conditions
    Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight also decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer.