How Body Weight Affects Your Knee Pain

Knee pain can occur in anyone for a number of reasons. It is a vulnerable joint because of the many ligaments and tendons that work together to allow for full mobility. While anyone may be at risk for knee pain, it is much more likely to occur in people who are overweight. When you are overweight, there is also a greater risk of knee pain leading to more severe injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, two out of three obese adults will suffer from knee osteoarthritis at some point in their life. Excess weight can also cause existing arthritis to worsen.   

Losing weight is not an easy task. It can be especially tough when you are fighting off knee pain. You may find it easier to lose if you understand exactly how much being overweight can negatively impact the health of your joints and your overall health. It is also important to note that there is no catch-all definition for overweight.

Weight loss can help alleviate knee pain

A chart indicating the levels of Body Mass Index.

If you feel that you may be overweight, you should research what a healthy weight is for your height and gender. So for example, 150 pounds may seem like a lot, but for a man who is 6 feet tall that would be a perfectly healthy weight. To help determine where you fall on the scale of healthy weight to obese, you should also talk with your doctor. An expert who you can speak with in person will have a much better understanding of your body type than any charts you can find online.

Weight Distribution and Knee Pain

Just from walking you are distributing 1.5 times your body weight across your knee joints. Say you weigh 200 pounds. While you’re walking around, you’re placing 300 pounds of force on your knees. That force can double, even triple when you walk up and downstairs. When squatting, the force on your knees can increase as much as 5 times your body weight. Something as simple as squatting down to tie your shoe can become laborious when you are overweight.

Losing Weight with Knee Pain

When walking, climbing up stairs, and squatting are already difficult it may seem near impossible to lose weight. Start out with simple exercises that don’t put too much strain on your knees. For example, a stationary bike on low resistance, or walking on a treadmill at a slow pace. Both forms of exercise are both good way to start out. Then as you build strength and endurance you can work your way up to more challenging exercises. Then you will be able to burn fat more quickly.

While exercise is essential to losing weight, it is not the only factor. Diet also plays a major role in weight loss. For every pound lost, you’re losing approximately 3,500 calories. It can take quite a lot of effort to shed those calories through exercise alone. Portion control in meals can help to decrease the amount of exercise you’ll have to do later on.

The Benefits

As you lose weight, the benefits will become apparent. One pound of weight loss unloads at least 4 pounds of joint stress to the knee. A 2005 study from Dr. Stephen P. Messier of Wake Forest focused on the effects of weight loss on knee pain. According to him, the accumulated reduction in knee load for 1 pound of weight loss is more than 4,800 pounds per mile walked. For people losing 10 pounds, each knee would be subjected to 48,000 pounds less per mile walked. Another report from the 2016 edition of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage showed that a 10 percent reduction of a person’s Body Mass Index over 48 months delayed the progression of cartilage degeneration.

If you’re experiencing pain in your knees and you believe it could be a result of your weight, reach out to your doctor. Here at Orthopedic Specialists we have developed a specific weight loss program to help our patients achieve a healthy lifestyle. For more information give us a call at (502) 212-2663 or visit our program page here.