Feb 22, 2018

Weight Loss Can Decrease Progression of Osteoarthritis

Posted By: Richard Iorio, MD

Patients who are overweight or obese can decrease the degeneration rate and slow down the severity of osteoarthritis progression through weight loss. A study in RADIOLOGY showed that over a 4 year period progression of knee joint cartilage loss was decreased in overweight patients who achieved a loss of 5 percent or more in body mass index (BMI).

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. Being overweight or obese can place extra pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away. In addition, people with more body fat may have higher blood levels of substances that cause inflammation in the joints, raising the risk for osteoarthritis.

“For this research, we analyzed the differences between groups with and without weight loss,” said the study’s lead author, Alexandra Gersing, M.D., from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. “We looked at the degeneration of all knee joint structures, such as menisci, articular cartilage and bone marrow.”

Patients were categorized into three groups: those who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, those who lost five to 10 percent of their body weight, and a control group whose weight remained stable.

The results showed that patients with 5 percent weight loss had lower rates of cartilage degeneration when compared with participants without weight loss. In those with 10 percent weight loss, cartilage degeneration slowed even more.Not only did the researchers find that weight loss slowed articular cartilage degeneration, they also saw changes in the menisci. Menisci are crescent-shaped fibrocartilage pads that protect and cushion the joint.

“The most exciting finding of our research was that not only did we see slower degeneration in the articular cartilage, we saw that the menisci degenerated a lot slower in overweight and obese individuals who lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, and that the effects were strongest in overweight individuals and in individuals with substantial weight loss,” Dr. Gersing said.

Light to moderate exercise is also recommended to protect against cartilage degeneration in the knee. “Our study emphasizes the importance of individualized therapy strategies and lifestyle interventions in order to prevent structural knee joint degeneration as early as possible in obese and overweight patients at risk for osteoarthritis or with symptomatic osteoarthritis,” Dr. Gersing said.

Using an intervention like MyArthritisRx.com to customize your arthritic exercise and lifestyle interventions and improving your health status through weight loss can lead to a decrease in arthritis symptoms and progression of arthritis severity.

“Is Weight Loss Associated with Less Progression of Changes in Knee Articular Cartilage among Obese and Overweight Patients as Assessed with MR Imaging over 48 Months? Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.” Collaborating with Dr. Gersing were Benedikt J. Schwaiger, M.D., Michael C. Nevitt, M.D., Gabby B. Joseph, Ph.D., Nattagan Chanchek, M.D., Julio B. Guimaraes, M.D., John Mbapte Wamba, M.D., Luca Facchetti, M.D., Charles E. McCulloch, Ph.D., and Thomas M. Link, M.D. Ph.D.

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