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Addressing Obesity May Help In Prevention, Treatment Of OA

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Addressing obesity may prevent and significantly relieve osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, according to an article published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Obesity may unlock the biomechanical and inflammatory changes that cause osteoarthritis (OA) and the pain and stiffness associated with this condition, according to a literature review co-authored by Ryan C. Koonce, an orthopaedic surgeon at Skagit Regional Clinics in Mount Vernon, Washington.

There is a clear link between obesity and OA, both from biomechanical and systemic factors, and the latter seem to be significant, Koonce says in the paper.

Roughly 50% of knee OA cases could be avoided if obesity is removed as a risk factor, according to the article.

The paper highlights several facts that point to the link between excess weight and OA, a progressive disease of the joints commonly known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Greater weight and load bearing across a specific joint results in increased wear. White adipose tissue (WAT), which can trigger inflammation, is found in large proportions in obese adults. Obesity is also a strong independent risk factor for pain, especially in tendons and other soft-tissue structures. The authors claim that weight loss can reduce pain and restore function and quality of life in OA patients, potentially averting 111,206 total knee replacements each year.

It is important that doctors understand the different ways that abnormal weight causes arthritis not only to treat but to prevent this condition, said co-author Jonathan T. Bravman from the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Colorado. Weight loss is currently underutilised as a primary treatment option for joint pain and arthritis, he added.