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The annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is taking place right now, and a press release describes five studies looking at the link between obesity and knee arthritis. There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering here, but I just like to highlight news like this because I still sometimes hear people who say they’d like to run but don’t want to ruin their knees — an idea that has been pretty firmly debunked.
“Other studies have looked at the effect that a combination of weight loss, diet and exercise had on knee arthritis, but it was difficult to say which of these factors contributed the most to reducing knee pain,” says Christopher Edwards, co-investigator and a fourth year medical student at the Penn State College of Medicine. “Our study should send a message to patients, health care providers, and payers that weight loss is an important consideration in the treatment of knee arthritis.”
That being said, it’s not as simple and obvious as you might think. The additional weight of being obese certainly puts extra load on joints — but there’s also evidence that fat tissue secretes inflammatory hormones that make joint problems worse. My wife is actually doing some research in this area at the moment… so if there are any big breakthroughs, I’ll keep you posted!