Can losing weight make your bones hurt?

Losing as little as 10 pounds can have a big impact on protecting joints from osteoarthritis. When a person loses a significant amount of weight, they expect to notice changes in their body. However, they can overlook the changes that occur in your bones. Obesity can increase levels of inflammation in the body, which can lead to joint pain.

Losing weight can reduce this inflammatory response. Weight loss can do more than reduce joint pain in overweight people, according to a new study. Other major improvements in health can also occur. Without exercising, you may lose the ability to control pain and move freely, limiting your daily activities.

If you have weight-induced joint pain, losing weight and removing joint tension can relieve symptoms. While weight loss is a goal for most people, following that diet can have serious consequences. There are also inflammatory factors associated with weight gain that can also contribute to problems in the other joints, such as those in the hands. Taking the necessary steps to control your weight can help protect your knees from joint pain and reduce your risk of developing OA.

Among participants in the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have successfully lost an average of 66 pounds and have maintained weight for at least five years, just over half used a formal program, such as Jenny Craig's Weight Watchers. But no one, Schrepf says, has measured how a person's weight can influence pain in other areas, such as muscles, stomach and head. People with obesity might recognize that losing weight can improve their quality of life, but they shouldn't approach the task informally, Schrepf says. Most National Weight Loss Registry participants who haven't lost weight cook a lot at home.

Over time, excessive strain and stress placed on the joints from carrying more weight can lead to joint pain and arthritis. Researchers examined protein markers of bone breakdown and formation in 37 obese middle-aged adults who lost 20 percent of their body weight through a severe calorie-restricted diet. Because weight loss is very common in older adults, more work is needed to assess whether these bone deficits can be prevented through interventions or therapy, said Elizabeth (Lisa) Samelson, PhD, lead author of the article. This means that if you lose 10 pounds (4.54 kg), there will be 40 pounds (18.14 kg) less weight in each step for your knees to support.

However, the first results could encourage those seeking pain relief to make (and comply with) the necessary lifestyle changes to lose weight.

Gerald Clabaugh
Gerald Clabaugh

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