How being Overweight Affects Osteoarthritis 

Studies worldwide do indicate that excess weight is related to early signs of Osteoarthritis of the knee and hip or the worsening of the condition and increase in risk of other health problems.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. The rates of this condition seen in patients is ever increasing, with a strong link to the rise in obesity. Being just 4-5 kilos overweight puts an extra 7 to 10 kilos of pressure on your knees. This makes it more likely for you to develop osteoarthritis (OA) or make the disease worse if you already have it. Carrying extra bodyweight if you are affected by OA does more than create a harmful load on joints. Excess fat also acts to speed the destruction of cartilage. It is one of the most common diseases that adversely affect bone and joint health.

Joint pressure

Extra weight is hard on joints. The more you weigh, the more stressed and damaged your joints can become. For example, the knees of healthy-weight people absorb about half a kilo of force with every step. If you add OA to the mix – with the joint misalignment that often goes with it – your knees take even more of a beating. A lifetime of movement can take a toll, especially when you’re overweight.


Fat is chemically active and constantly releases inflammation-causing proteins.

“These proteins travel through your whole body and make it a little inflamed everywhere, including in your joints Constant, low-grade inflammation makes your joints more likely to develop OA. And joints not loaded by weight are just as vulnerable.

Progression of disease

OA gets worse faster and is more severe in obese people than in those who weigh less. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to need a hip or knee replacement. They also tend to have more complications and poorer outcomes after surgery. The goal is to reduce weight and inflammation before surgery.

Health Problems

Obesity-related damage in OA is not limited to joints. Much of this increased risk is said to be due to body-wide inflammation leading to metabolic syndrome: a group of conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess fat around the waist. Obese people with OA are almost three times more likely than those in the general population to have metabolic syndrome.

Excess Weight will be disabling

Compared with healthy-weight people with OA, studies have shown that obese people with OA take more medications, walk more slowly, are less physically active and are at higher risk of becoming disabled.

Why Weight Loss Matters 

The good news is that most or all of these problems can be remedied by dropping a few kilos. Some doctors have noted that losing just 10% of your body weight can cut arthritis pain in half. Losing 20% can cut arthritis pain by another 25% or more.


Meet Dr Peter Smith, a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon operating from the Mediclinic Milnerton in Cape Town, Western Cape. His practice is situated in the heart of this seaside town.  Dr Peter Smith not only offers patients the full spectrum of professional orthopaedic treatments, but specialises in total knee replacement, total hip replacement, sports injuries and the latest arthroscopic surgery techniques and computer guided surgery. He gained extensive experience in the latest arthroplasty techniques during his stay of 6 years in Australia where he performed more than a hundred primary and revision hip and knee replacements cases in a year.


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