After last year’s more sedentary lifestyle and comfort eating due to COVID-19, the New Year may have you creating a resolution to lose some extra pounds, and that might just be what your joints have needed. Your orthopaedic specialist at Quinby Orthopedics has shared some tips to help you understand what those extra 20 pounds can do to your joints.

What extra weight does to your joints

Carrying extra weight increases the joint reaction force—or pressure—that your hips, knees and ankles have been experiencing. This pressure can be two or three times the normal joint reaction force that would occur within a healthy weight range. So an extra 20 pounds can act like 40 to 50 pounds of excess weight on your lower extremity joints. This number increases if you are doing any kind of high impact exercise.

Symptoms of joint stress

The extra wear and tear on your joints caused by excess weight can be seen in the breakdown of the cushioning layer of cartilage. Loss of cartilage can cause arthritis-related symptoms such as pain, swelling, joint stiffness and a decreased range of motion.

“Apart from increasing joint pain, carrying excess weight also opens the doors to inflammatory diseases, digestive disorders and autoimmune diseases,” said Quinby Orthopedics’ Medical Director, Dr. J. Scott Quinby. “In addition, the inflammatory enzymes that are released from excess weight can cause joint inflammation which causes your joint pain to spike.”

Prevention is the best medicine

If you are starting to notice excess stress on your hips, knees and ankles, you may want to concentrate on preventative measures that can preserve the cartilage layer and keep your joints healthier.

“If you are wondering if you should lose weight, a handy tool is a body mass index calculator,” said Dr. Quinby. “It should tell you quickly if you need to drop some pounds.”

A little success makes a big difference

According to one study, one pound of weight loss has a 4-fold reduction in the weight load exerted on the knee with each step1. That means that even a little bit of weight loss can have a major impact in lightening the load on your hips, knees and ankles.

Weight loss tips

Ready to get started losing weight? Here are some tips to try. First, consult with your physician before starting on any serious weight loss plan. Second, try these simple lifestyle changes:

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day (64-80 ounces).
  • Start low-impact activities such as daily walking.
  • Look for ways to increase your activity level, such as standing while working, walking on the treadmill in front of the TV, or walking while talking on the phone.
  • Empty your cupboards of unhealthy food and drink choices and don’t buy any more. Utilize the pick-up-and-go options at the store to eliminate temptation and to help you control what you buy.
  • Reduce fat and empty calorie intake and increase servings of fruits and vegetables and protein.
  • Switch harmful processed, fatty snacks with nutrient-rich and protein snacks such as nuts, cheese, jerky and whole grains.
  • Replace sugary beverages with sparkling, naturally-flavored waters.

Other conditions can cause joint pain

“It is important to know that not all joint pain is caused by excess weight. There are some conditions, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, leukemia and osteomyelitis that cause pain in the joints but are not necessarily related to weight. It is important to have a complete exam to pinpoint the cause of your joint pain,” said Dr. Quinby.

Get an appointment with our orthopaedic specialist today!

If you are experiencing joint pain, swelling and decreased range of motion, call us at Quinby Orthopedics today @ 469-929-0615 for an initial examination. Your orthopaedic specialist is experienced at diagnosing and treating joint pain and can help you find a plan to lose excess weight with the goal of relieving your joint pain and increasing your quality of life.

Visit us at one of our two convenient locations:

  • Rockwall – Rockwall Medical Center, 810 E. Ralph Hall Pkwy, Suite 140
  • Plano – Plano Medical Office Building III, 4001 W 15th St., Suite 180