Managing joint pain and arthritis with weight loss
5 minutes Published on October 11, 2021
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a medical condition that affects the joints between your bones. The condition is common, with one in seven Australians having some form of it. The most prevalent type of arthritis in Australia is osteoarthritis (OA).
Arthritis can be a highly painful and debilitating condition; one in two Australians with the condition report experiencing moderate to severe pain. Its symptoms include joint stiffness, swelling, reduced mobility and redness in the affected joints.
OA, which affects one in 11 Australians, is a chronic condition caused by the depletion of protective cartilage in the joints. This causes the bones to rub together resulting in its painful symptoms. OA largely affects the hands, spine, hips, knees and ankles.
The risk factors for OA include genetics, age (incidences rise from the age of 45) and sex (women are more likely to be affected than men). While these factors can’t be controlled, there are lifestyle factors that can be modified to reduce your likelihood of developing OA, or managing symptoms if you have it. These include managing your weight, being physically active, stopping smoking and minimising alcohol intake.
How does excess weight affect joint pain and OA?
Obesity is a major risk factor for OA. According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), rising levels of obesity in Australia will also result in a rising number of OA cases.
The reason why excess weight is such a major risk factor, and why it can worsen symptoms of OA, is because it places extra pressure on your joints and increases the stress on your cartilage – especially in your knees. “Every kilogram of excess weight you carry,” says Professor David Hunter, an arthritis expert at the University of Sydney, “puts an extra load of four kilograms on your knee joint.”
What are the benefits of weight loss on joint pain and OA?
While there’s no cure for arthritis, weight management and physical activity are two ways to manage the condition and reduce the severity of symptoms. If you’re overweight or obese, weight loss can reduce the pressure on your joints, ease joint pain and increase mobility.
Research suggests that a weight loss of five percent of your body weight can offer significant health benefits, including managing symptoms of OA. Additional weight loss offers further benefits to symptoms; research has shown that CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members who lost the highest amount of body fat during the program experienced the greatest improvements in pre-existing health conditions.
Two in three CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet members surveyed also reported having more energy after participating in the program. Having more energy makes physical activity easier to achieve, and regular physical activity is strongly recommended for people with joint pain and OA. Exercise strengthens your muscles and increases mobility and flexibility in your joints.
Help your members with arthritis reduce up to 9.93% of the pressure on their joints with our Total Wellbeing Lifestyle Plan*
The Total Wellbeing Lifestyle Plan is an easy 24-week online lifestyle program that combines the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet everyone knows and loves with 15 one-on-one Total Wellbeing Health Coaching Sessions with an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Our approach is to help your members reduce their risk—or stop progression—of chronic disease through a combination of weight loss, improved nutrition, and effective physical activity. It’s all about changing certain behaviours and meeting your weight loss goals.
Our expert health team support your members throughout the process with a scientifically developed platform that empowers them with the self-monitoring tools education pieces, personalised coaching and telehealth sessions to improve habits that change their lives for the better.
Members who’ve tried the Total Wellbeing Lifestyle Management Plan for example, have experienced measurable reductions in chronic conditions such as:
• blood pressure - 7-9% lower
• cholesterol - 8% lower
• pressure on joints - 9.93% lower
• blood glucose - 6.40% lower.
With better health comes fewer claims, lower numbers of hospitalisations and faster recoveries. The fund’s costs go down and with it the cost of cover to members. Everyone wins.
*Results of the 2021 Digital Wellness Total Wellbeing Lifestyle Plan Report.