Are your joints aching a little more after the COVID-19 pandemic? It might not be age or arthritis. If you gained a few pounds over the last 18 months of lockdowns and quarantine, it could be affecting your joints.
Losing weight can help mitigate or prevent joint damage. Read on to learn more about how weight gain affects your joints. Of course, there’s no substitute for regular checkups with your doctor—but if any of the following information resonates with you, consider asking your doctor about it at your next appointment.
Weight gain and your joints
When you’re carrying around excess weight, it can strain your joints—especially your knees. Even 10 pounds of excess weight puts about 30 to 40 pounds of pressure on your knees. If you’re overweight or obese, you have a significantly increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and other joint damage.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition in which the cartilage in your joints wears down over time. The more excess weight you carry around, the faster your cartilage breaks down. Since cartilage cannot regenerate, this is a degenerative condition. The only way to prevent it or mitigate damage is to lose weight and stay active.
How to lose weight when you have joint pain
If you already have osteoarthritis, your doctor has probably informed you whether you need to lose weight. That can be difficult, especially if your joints cause you a lot of pain already. Start slow, and remember that any weight loss will benefit your joints and prevent further joint damage:
- Have realistic goals: You’re not going to lose 50 pounds in a month, no matter what high school reunion is coming up. However, since every pound counts, that doesn’t mean you should give up, either. Set realistic weight loss goals (one to two pounds per week) and don’t give up, even when you plateau.
- Find a diet that works for you: Not every diet will work for you, especially if you hate every minute of it. Find a doctor-approved diet that helps you keep the weight off, but also doesn’t make you feel like you’re being deprived.
- Eat at home: Cooking your own food can help you keep the weight off. Restaurant food is loaded with oil, sugar and salt—the enemies of weight loss. Learn to cook within your dietary parameters to keep those pounds under control.
- Find a “buddy” for weight loss motivation: Even if your diet perspective is more “misery loves company” than “everything is better with a friend,” finding a weight loss buddy can help you stay on track. If you’re motivated by competition, why not add a friendly wager to the mix?
- Discover exercises that work for you: Finally, look for exercises that work for you—ones that don’t put undue stress on your joints, and that you actually enjoy. Water aerobics is a great way to burn calories while avoiding joint pain.
Dr. Bernard Ong, M.D. is here to help you address joint damage and orthopedic issues. If weight gain has affected your joints in recent months, call today for an appointment.
Categorized in: Joint Pain
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