For healthy knees, being 11 pounds lighter can make a big difference

For healthy knees, being 11 pounds lighter can make a big difference

For healthy knees, being 11 pounds lighter can make a big difference

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Even a little weight gain can not only damage your knees — which can lead to pain, stiffness, and mobility problems — but also increase your chances of needing knee replacement surgery, according to the research presented last month at the International Congress on Obesity.

Among study participants, a gain of just 11 pounds made total knee replacement 34 percent more likely for women and 25 percent more likely for men. This finding comes from a research review of two studies involving around 264,000 people.

Overall, however, they reviewed data from 23 studies, focusing on the relationship between weight gain and the knee osteoarthritis and finding that as weight increased, participants’ symptoms and radiographs of their knees indicated worsening osteoarthritis.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states osteoarthritis as the most common type of arthritis; more than 32 million American adults have degenerative joint disease. It can damage any joint, but the knees are one of the most commonly affected joints.

Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones in the joint breaks down or wears away, giving the condition its nickname “wear and tear” disease. This leaves the bones in the joint rubbing against each other, causing pain, stiffness and movement problems.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis of the knee, but treatment may include medications, physical therapy, and activity modifications. If this proves insufficient, knee replacement surgery may be an option with the removal of arthritic parts of the joint and replacement with metal, plastic or ceramic parts.

First performed in the 1960s, the surgery has become quite common, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, with more than 750,000 knee replacements performed each year in the United States. Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that preventing weight gain — which they say is easier than losing weight — should reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis and the number of knee replacements needed.

This article is part of the Post’s “Big Number” series, which provides a brief insight into the statistical aspect of health problems. Additional information and relevant research are available via hyperlinks.

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