How Does Being Over Weight Affect My Joint Health?

 Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.  This disease progressively destroys the cartilage which acts like a shock absorber in the joints resulting in pain, stiffness, and eventually the loss of movement in the affected joint (1).  Not only does being overweight increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints, but extra pounds also lead to increased inflammation and pain for those with arthritis. The following is an example of how weight impacts joint health:   

  • For every pound a person is overweight, 3-5 pounds of extra weight is added to each knee during walking (2).

    • Being only 10 pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30-50 pounds with each step.

Weight loss, as modest as 5 to 10% of total body weight in a person who is overweight, reduces the risk of developing osteoarthritis.  It also reduces the strain placed on the knee and ankle joints.  For those who need joint replacements, weight loss can reduce the risk of complications with surgery and increase the lifetime of the joint replacement. 


Messier, S. Arthritis and Rheumatism. July 2005; vol 52: pp 2026-2032. News release, John Wiley & Sons Inc.  

2.     Felson DT: Weight and osteoarthritis. J.Rheumatol. 1995;43:7-9.