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How Weight Affects Your Bones and Joints

Most Americans understand the risks associated with being overweight or obese. Diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, and sleep apnea are well understood and are discussed regularly. Recent studies have shown that more than two in three people are either overweight or obese. Besides the standard problems caused by obesity, it is important to understand how weight can affect one's bones and joints.

Excess weight puts a tremendous strain on a person's bones and joints. Did you know that every extra pound of body weight puts an additional four pounds of pressure on each knee joint? A person that is ten pounds overweight adds forty pounds of pressure on their knees. Over time this causes wear-and-tear on the bones and joints and leads to osteoarthritis and pain and swelling in the hip or knee joints. The tendons that connect the muscles can become inflamed and cause tendonitis. The cartilage at the end of the bone becomes damaged or worn, which can cause the joint to swell. Another issue to consider is bursitis; this is where the bursa, which is a fluid sack that keeps joints from rubbing against each other, will burst, causing pain and swelling. These problems can also occur in the ankles, shoulder, and elbow joints.

The good news is that many of these issues can be reversed with weight loss. It is strongly recommended that a diet and exercise program should begin under a doctor's supervision. Remember that every pound of weight loss reduces strain on your knees by four pounds! For many, it may be too late to repair the damage, and other options can be considered. These options include complete or partial joint replacement and various types of shots delivered into the joint. The more obese the person is, the higher risk they are for complications for surgery like infections, blood clots, and dislocations of the replacement joints. Weight loss can decrease these risks and offer an overall improved quality of life.

It's important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing constant stiff joints, swelling, pain in knees, ankles, hips, or knees. They may recommend an evaluation from an orthopedic specialist who can provide proper diagnosis and treatment options.

At McLean County Orthopedics, we are experts in orthopedic care and specialize in the treatment of bone and joint problems. If pain or stiffness has developed in a knee, hip, ankle, shoulder joint, please give us a call at (309) 663-6461 and schedule an appointment! We would love to help you reduce pain and improve your health and your life. 

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