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Weight loss is very commonly spoken about when it comes to OA. Today we have a post exploring some studies about how weight loss is related to knee OA.

Today's post is written by Dr Sarah Meneses, a researcher and physiotherapist based at the Institute of Bone and Joint Research. Dr Meneses completed her PhD on laser therapy and stretching exercises at the University of Sao Paulo and takes a strong interest in conservative management of osteoarthritis.


It is well known that being overweight or obese can lead to health issues over the time. The joints that carry this extra load suffer and it is common to see a high prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) within overweight and obese people.


A recent study showed that losing either 5 kg or 5% of body weight has preventive effects on both the structural and clinical signs of knee OA in middle-aged, overweight and obese women without OA.

The authors stated that is necessary to design strategies that are implementable in primary care and effective in reducing body weight of overweight and obese subjects at high-risk of developing knee OA. However, it is important to note that this was an observational study (where researcher are unable to control as much), and we cannot assume a causal relationship (where one variable results in a particular outcome), as there may have been other factors that influenced the results.

Another recent study showed the effect of bariatric surgery (to reduce the size of the stomach) prior to total knee replacement as a cost-effective option for improving outcomes in morbidly obese patients with end-stage knee osteoarthritis.

The authors advised that ideally, a team approach should be used to treat severely obese patients with knee arthritis in which various health care professionals are in place to help a patient lose weight, improve his or her health, and optimize nutrition before joint replacement to maximize its benefits. The outcomes of this study may assist physicians when counseling patients and developing an individualized treatment plan that includes optimization of overall health, nutrition and weight prior to knee replacement.

These two studies had different subtypes of overweight or obese participants. In the first were included people without OA and in the other were included people in the end-stage of the disease. However, both studies showed a positive effect of weight reduction in the prevention or management of OA. So, keep track of your weight! Speak with your GP and find a real weight loss target for yourself. A weight reduction of 5% already promotes benefits to your health!

Runhaar J, de Vos BC, van Middelkoop M, Vroegindeweij D, Oei EH, Bierma-Zeinstra SM. Moderate weight loss prevents incident knee osteoarthritis in overweight and obese female. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016 Feb 11. doi: 10.1002/acr.22854. [Epub ahead of print]

McLawhorn AS, Southren D, Wang YC, Marx RG, Dodwell ER. Cost-Effectiveness of Bariatric Surgery Prior to Total Knee Arthroplasty in the Morbidly Obese: A Computer Model-Based Evaluation. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016 Jan 20;98(2):e6. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.N.00416.

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