There is no denying the association between weight and joint pain. The heavier you are, the more pressure there is on your joints, particularly in the lower body.
People with existing musculoskeletal disorders, like arthritis, feel it even worse.
It’s a tricky relationship. There is plenty of data to suggest that moving more, which will aid weight loss, can help control joint pain. On the other hand, pain can be a major deterrent to movement.
So, what can you do?
A recent study found a clear association between joint pain and Body Mass Index (BMI), which is an estimation of body fat using height and weight. Researchers found that the higher the individual’s BMI, the more likely they were to report pain.
The association was highest among people in arthritis.
Looking at two million US veterans, 58% reported pain. Of them, 8 in 10 were overweight and obese. Those with arthritis were 40% more likely to report pain if they were overweight. That number jumped to 55% of they were severely obese, compared to those at normal weight.
If pain is an impediment to movement, looking at other ways to bring weight down is highly recommended. The best way to bring down weight and improve inflammatory conditions might be altering your diet.
Increased consumption of satiating foods is one place to start. Lean, high-protein foods like skinless chicken breast, eggs, turkey, and low-fat dairy are all suitable. High-fiber options are great too and can range from whole grains to countless fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, broccoli, eggplant, and bell peppers (among nearly every other) are nutrient-dense and high in inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Including more of them and replacing starchy sides or processed foods may aid in both pain relief and weight loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also play a role in battling inflammation. Cold-water fish like salmon and tuna, as well as plant-based foods like walnuts and flax seeds, contain omega-3s.
As weight comes off and joints become less inflamed, it’s likely movement will become easier and less painful. Focusing on weight loss and reducing body mass index is a central component in the fight against joint pain.