Lose the Weight, Lessen the Pain

Whether it’s a result of a youth spent mogul bashing or regular wear and tear, many baby boomers are dealing with knee problems that have sidelined them from activities they enjoy.  Knee pain is among the most common health issue middle aged men experience and 63 per cent of women over 50 suffer knee pain. 

A recent study by the American College of Rheumatology found that as many as 27 million adult women suffer from osteoarthritis in the United States alone.  Knee pain caused by arthritis when the cartilage at the joint wears down is worsened by being overweight or having a history of knee injury.

While some knee problems may eventually require surgery or even knee replacement, there are steps adults can take early on to delay the need for surgery and help alleviate chronic pain.


  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Stay physically active
  • Stretch and warm up before exercise; cool down after
  • Don’t play through the pain; slow down or stop and cool down if in pain
  • Wear properly fitting shoes
  • Avoid activities that involve twisting the knee
  • Use protective sports equipment
  • Treat injury

Source:  Arthritis Foundation

Being overweight is the most modifiable risk factor for osteoarthritis and can speed up knee OA in particular.   The joints that bear most of the body’s weight are the knees and hips and years of carrying extra weight can cause joint pain, swelling and irritation.  According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Treatment Center, losing as little as 11 pounds can decrease the progression of knee OA by 50 per cent.  People who are considered obese, with a body mass index between 30 and 35, are four to five times more likely to get arthritis in their knees.

Getting regular exercise when you are heavy, out of shape or in pain can be challenging but using water to take some of the weight off joints is a good place to begin.  Swimming, water aerobics or walking laps can provide resistance training that builds muscle and endurance while protecting joints.

For  persistent pain, seek treatment from a medical professional such as as rheumatologist who may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, lubricating injections or radio frequency ablation, (which stops the nerves from transmitting pain) as measures to delay surgery.

To learn more about weight and joint pain, follow this link to the Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat report.