Can Losing Weight Really Help Manage Arthritis Symptoms?


The answer is YES! Did you know that greater than 60% of adults in the United States who are diagnosed with osteoarthritis are also overweight or obese? In addition to an increased load across a joint, obesity can increase the body’s overall inflammatory response, which may increase joint pain over time. Some of the first line treatments for osteoarthritis are lifestyle modifications including diet, guided exercise and weight loss. We often tell patients that for every 1 pound lost, it equates to about 4 pounds reduction of load exerted on the knee joint and 6 pounds reduction on the hip joint.

According to one study in Arthritis Care Res by Messier et al., it was found that weight loss of 10-20% of one’s baseline body weight had substantial benefits including decreased pain and joint load, improved overall function, reduction in inflammation, increased mobility as well as increase in health related quality of life.

Methods of weight loss may vary from diet to weight loss medications /surgeries to specific exercise regimens for osteoarthritis. We recognize it may be challenging to achieve weight loss with vigorous exercise when diagnosed with osteoarthritis. For many people, low impact activities such as walking, biking, yoga, resistance exercise training, Tai chi and water aerobics are a great addition to a weight loss program and may also help improve pain and function.