Why Weight Loss Could Prevent A Joint Replacement

Nov 09, 2020

Intuitively, it makes sense why weight loss would be good for your joints. The less work your body has to do to hold you up, the less stress on the joints. One pound of body weight is equal to 4 pounds of load on your knees. Newer research is showing that weight loss can also effect inflammation and cartilage turnover in a positive way. Below I review an article that researched the effects of weight loss on patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Significant weight loss (>/= 20% loss in obese individuals) was shown to decrease interleukin 6(IL-6) levels. IL-6 is a cytokine that stimulates inflammation and auto-immune responses in several different diseases. Adipose (fat) tissue is responsible for the secretion of IL-6. Obesity can be classified as a low-grade inflammatory disease and can be associated with metabolic, cardiovascular and hepatic diseases. There is a significant association of IL-6 levels with the prevalence of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knee joints. This particular study noted that IL-6 levels directly correlated with Helix-II. Helix-II is a biomarker of cartilage turnover, the higher the level the higher the severity of cartilage damage. Increased accumulation of IL-6 can alter cartilage homeostasis and can actually affect the cartilage in individuals that carry excessive fat cells.

Serum oligometic matrix protein, or COMP, is considered a biomarker of the degradation of cartilage. The measure of this protein could potentially predict osteoarthritis damage. Conversely, PIIANP is a marker for type II collagen synthesis. This report also noted that the COMP concentration was correlated with changes in reported pain levels. Significant weight loss resulted in decreased COMP and increased PIIANP. This suggests that weight loss can result in a structural change in the cartilage.

Another take away has suggested that weight loss >5% may be ineffective in alleviating pain associated with osteoarthritis. This study demonstrated that obese patients diagnosed with OA and had weight loss of at least 20% resulted in improvements in pain and function, decreased inflammation and improvement in cartilage turnover.

Moral of the story:

Significant weight loss can result in improvement in function, decrease in pain and inflammation and improvement in cartilage turnover. Losing weight is challenging but, if you can keep your joints healthy and have less pain is it worth it?

Category: Weight Loss