Relationship between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

There are some risk factors of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis), one of them is obesity. In other words, your risk of having this joint disease increases if you are overweight or being obese. Even maintaining body weight is one of major goals in the treatment.

What are other risk factors?

image_illustration199Risk factor means a factor /condition that can have an effect in increasing your chance of developing the disease. Having one or some risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely have the disease, but your risk is relatively higher on average.

The following are other risk factors:

Age

Many experts say that age can play a key role in putting you at high risk of OA. However, this issue is not fully understood yet.

The damaged cartilage is often associated with OA. Cartilage in the joints is so essential to help absorb stress so thus the joint can move with almost no friction. Unfortunately, it can break down and wear away over time.

But some studies found that this joint disease is not inevitable for all adults older than 60 years. This suggests that it may be not only about mechanical problem – some studies are continuously going!

Gender

In general, statistics show that the disease is relatively more common in women. The reason is not clear, though some theories have been proposed.

  1. Genetic factor! The classic theory in OA is ‘wear and tear’ that affects the cartilage joint as you age. But in several cases, OA of hands in women may run in families. Some studies found that OA in the hands may have specific genetic link.
  2. The biologic structure! The women’s bodies are not as tough as men’s bodies. They are designed for pregnancy and eventually to give a birth. This makes their lower body more elastic but also less stable, which may put them at more prone of getting injury.
  3. Hormones! Some studies found that there may be a role of estrogen on maintaining the health of cartilage. This hormone may be essential to protect cartilage from inflammation. And we know well, estrogen levels can decrease significantly after menopause. This may also answer why the number of OA in women increases drastically after the age of 45 years.
  4. Generally, obesity affects more women than men. And obesity is another risk factor of OA, as noted before.

Your daily activities

If you often do tasks that involve repetitive pressure /stress on a particular joint, there is a chance for the cartilage in that joint to get damaged, causing OA.

For instance, an athlete is usually at high risk since he /she can get injury from his /her sport activity. See also helpful tips to protect your knee joints (the most commonly joint affected by OA) on this section.

Deformities at birth

Some people can have defective cartilage or bone deformities at birth. This may increase the risk of developing OA.

Some health conditions

There are certain conditions that can be a trigger or can worsen the problem. These include diabetes, Paget’s disease, and thyroid problem (especially hypothyroidism or under-active thyroid).

What is the relationship – how does obesity increase the risk of OA?

As written before OA often affects knee joint, the most common site that get pressure /stress in your daily activities.

If you are overweight or obese, this can add more stress on weight-bearing joints particularly such as on articular cartilage of your knee joints. For this reason, experts put obesity as a risk factor of OA.

Over time, articular cartilage of joints is more likely to break down and wear away. But if you are also overweight, this can make this process run faster.

Losing weight can be so helpful in obese people with OA. This can help reduce stress /pressure on weight-bearing joint (especially on the hips and knees), protect other joints from further damage, and reduce the risk of other health problems associated with obesity.

Lifestyle approaches for coping

While OA still has no cure, but some lifestyle approaches and home remedies are available to help manage the disease, relieve the symptoms, and improve the quality of your life. The following tips are also helpful for your weight control as well as for controlling the disease in general.