Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Reasons to Lose Weight If You Have Knee Pain

I once described losing weight as the closest thing I knew of to a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for knee pain sufferers.

I really, really believe that.

I recently blogged on the subject. Today I'm back to take another bite at the apple (a fruit, by the way, you might consider eating more of to help you shed a few pounds).


Because it's such an important message. Because I think a good 90 percent of knee pain sufferers can benefit from it.

Whoa, that's high, you may be thinking. But even if you're not obese, or even technically overweight, I bet that losing at least two or three pounds will help your knees. It helped mine, and I was thin at the time.

To show you why losing weight matters, I'm going to try to quietly slip back into the shadows and let others do the talking.

A 12-year study in the U.K. looked at knee pain in women 50 years and older.

The conclusion:
This study found that higher body mass index (BMI), previous knee injury, and radiographically confirmed osteoarthritis are predictors of persistent knee pain in women 50 years and older.
You can't control whether you had a previous knee injury. You can't control whether you have osteoarthritis as indicated by X-ray. You can control your weight.

Australian researchers conducted a one-year study of 111 obese patients who had weight-loss surgery or took part in a program of diet and exercise.

The findings:
Weight loss in obese patients correlated with improved knee cartilage thickness and quality, even in those who had previously existing osteoarthritis.
What was fascinating was that this study, using sophisticated measurements, showed that the actual quality of the knee cartilage improved:
Patients ... had delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI assessments of the knee, which can reveal the distribution of the glycosaminoglycans found in articular proteoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans are present in high levels in normal cartilage but in lower levels in cartilage that is decaying ... [Researchers] found that weight loss as low as 7% of body weight was associated with preservation of cartilage quality, and that better quality of the cartilage also improved the knee range of motion.
And, finally, more support for the Saving My Knees proposition that cartilage damage doesn't have to be the beginning of the end:
"These findings suggest that early cartilage degradation may be reversible. This has great clinical relevance as it indicates an opportunity for intervention or change before irreversible change in cartilage morphometry occurs," Lyn March and colleagues [the study's authors] stated.
Danish researchers put 175 obese subjects suffering from knee osteoarthritis on a protein-shake-and-soup diet. During the first eight weeks, participants shed an average of 26 pounds.
Losing weight helped more than 60 percent of the participants reduce their knee pain and improved their ability to walk, the researchers found.
The November issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter had a big article on fighting chronic inflammation.

Many knee pain sufferers have inflammation issues. However, it's still murky exactly how inflammation can be subdued. Well, largely murky.

One thing is clear, according to the article, which quoted Walter Willett, chairman of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"The most powerful way to reduce your inflammatory factors is to lose excess weight."
So there you have it.

What are you waiting for?


  1. From personal experience, I'm a believer in this idea about losing weight to help knee pain.  I'd been trying to heal my knee since 2006 but always faced setback after setback. Now finally in 2012 I have finally found significant progress with healing my knee.  

    One of the things that was different about this recent attempt to heal my knee was that I was 30 pounds lighter than in the past!  30 pounds may not sound like a lot,  but just go to the gym and pick up a 30 pound dumbbell, or if you have cans of soda in your house pick up 5.5 6-packs of soda. That is heavy!  Then imagine your knee having to support that with every step. That's a lot! 

    There were some other things i was doing differently with my knee therapy compared to the past, too, such as daily journaling about my knee and gentle water therapy (not swimming, but gentle leg movements while suspended from a floatation belt in the deep end). So I can't really credit down my recent encouraging progress to just one thing such as the weight loss. But certainly the weight loss didn't hurt! :)

    And another point I would like to make is that I lost 30 pounds with almost NO EXERCISE. Yes, it is possible! I think that in the past I thought I could not lose weight because I couldn't bike or swim or jog or walk or do other forms of cardio. But, it turns out there are diet programs based and how much and what you eat and are not dependent on exercise. Now then,  probably my weight loss would have been faster if I HAD exercised some, but, my knee was too bad for most of the time I was in that diet program, so I was pretty ecstatic that I still had great results even without doing cardio.

     I just want to let folks know that it IS possible to lose weight even if you cant do any cardio.  Do some research on your own or talk to friends and see if you can find a diet program that suits your needs.

  2. I have to agree. I have lost 30 lbs as well and it has helped me a lot. I think of how much weight a cane takes off of the joint when you lean on it....that is the built in effect of weight loss. I went with the low glycemic route and although it was a slow process it was effortless. ( It took me over a year. )
    Thank you for your blog Richard. By the way it was one of your comments that prompted me to get serious with losing weight.
    Thank you again.

  3. Great to hear that! As I've said before, I think losing weight is the closest thing I know of to a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for reducing knee pain.