A  A  A   Print
10 Percent Weight Loss May Relieve Arthritic Knee Pain

10 Percent Weight Loss May Relieve Arthritic Knee Pain

TUESDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Older people with a weight problem can relieve knee pain from osteoarthritis if they lose just 10 percent of their body weight through diet and exercise, a new study finds.

Overweight and obese people 55 or older who participated in a diet and exercise program reported less pain, better knee function, improved mobility and enhanced quality of life when they dropped one-tenth of their weight, according to the study in the Sept. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We've had a 162 percent increase in knee replacements over the last 20 years in people 65 and over, at a cost of $5 billion a year," said lead author Stephen Messier. "From our standpoint, we think this would be at least a good way to delay knee replacements and possibly prevent some knee replacements."

The 18-month study followed up on earlier findings that showed a 5 percent weight loss decreased knee pain and increased function in older folks, said Messier, a professor and director of the J.B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University.

"We thought, well, 5 percent did great -- what if we did more?" he said. "Would a more intense weight loss prompt more improvement on clinical outcomes?"

The study included 454 overweight and obese people who were suffering pain from diagnosed knee osteoarthritis. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups -- diet-only, exercise-only, and diet and exercise combined.

Participants were put on a thrice-weekly exercise program that included two 15-minute walking sessions separated by a 20-minute strength-training session.

"The whole thing took an hour, including warm-up and cool-down," Messier said. "It wasn't anything super, that no one else could do. We think we got these results through very practical means."

The dietary restrictions proved more intense. Researchers restricted participants to around 1,100 to 1,200 calories per day. They were fed up to two meal-replacement shakes per day of 300 calories each and a balanced dinner that contained between 500 and 750 calories, Messier said.

About 88 percent of participants completed the 18-month study. Researchers saw the following results:

  • People who undertook a combined diet-and-exercise regimen lost more weight on average than folks who either dieted or exercised.

  • The diet-and-exercise group had less knee pain, better function, faster walking speed, and better quality of life related to physical health than the exercise-only group.

  • The groups that dieted or combined diet with exercise experienced reduced inflammation compared to the exercise-only group.

  • People in the diet-only group enjoyed a significantly improved reduction in the amount of joint load placed on their knees compared to the exercise-only group.

The researchers also noted that there was a dose response to weight loss -- the more pounds a person dropped, the better they felt, Messier said.

"Clearly, the group that lost greater than 10 percent of their weight had significantly less pain, better function, lower joint load and less inflammation," he said. "When a physician is saying you should lose some weight, 10 percent should be the goal."

Arthritis Foundation spokeswoman Dr. Patience White said the study's findings should be encouraging to overweight people who suffer knee pain.

"We're not talking about people getting down to ideal body weight," said White, the foundation's vice president of public policy and advocacy. "They just have to lose 10 percent of their total weight. Someone who is 300 pounds only needs to lose 30 pounds. I think that's within reach for people."

However, she encouraged arthritis sufferers to check with their doctors before starting a diet-and-exercise program. "If people want to become physically active, they need to do it in a way that doesn't hurt their joints," White said.

Study author Messier also warned that people who want results need to stick with the program through the long haul.

"I think without the long-term nature of the study we wouldn't have seen some of the results. After six months, all three groups had the same amount of decreased pain. We only started seeing significant differences after 18 months," he said. "We want to help people change their behavior long-term, so that they do this for the rest of their lives."

More information

To learn more about osteoarthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation.

SOURCES: Stephen P. Messier, Ph.D., professor and director, J.B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Patience White, M.D., vice president of public policy and advocacy, Arthritis Foundation; Sept. 25, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association

 
Today's Interactive Tools

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.