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The Pressure of Extra Pounds On Joints

By: Ann Marie Coppen

Anne Marie Coppen

PhD, FNP, Nurse Practitioner

For a personal response to your health question, Ask Ann Marie at askannmarie@lindora.com. Selected questions will be featured in future columns.

How being Overweight or Obese impacts your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments

Being overweight or obese has a number of health consequences. We have discussed many of these health consequences such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. Another consequence of too much weight is the impact on your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Driving a commercial truck down the road jostles your body around quite a bit at a healthy weight. Any extra weight beyond healthy will add that much more pressure to your body during the jostling.

A quick lesson on anatomy:

  • A joint is the point where two bones connect. Without joints, movement would be impossible.
  • joint capsule wraps around the joint and contains synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.
  • A ligament is fibrous tissue that connects bones to bones.
  • Tendons connect muscle to bone.
  • Muscles are body tissues that produce movement.

Being overweight compromises the integrity of the body, because it places joints in a position that is unnatural. For example, excess fat in upper arms will force the shoulder position further out to the side than normal. If this strain persists for a period of time, it can result in inflammation of the shoulder joint (rotator cuff).

This same pr

ocess occurs with the joints of the hip, knees, and ankles. Excess fat tissue between the thighs forces the hips and knees further away form the midline, changing their position and causing rotation of the hip and uneven weight bearing on the knee joints.

What is “osteoarthritis” and how does my weight impact this condition?

overweight joint stress

Osteoarthritis results when the cartilage on the end of your bones wears away with use. The cartilage provides a cushion between the bones. When the cartilage wears down from bearing excess weight or too much force, the bones begin to rub against each other resulting in significant pain.

Biomechanical researchers have found that the joint forces of hips and knees, the joints most commonly affected by arthritis, are approximately 1.5 times body weight when walking on level ground. A person weighing 200 pounds walking along a level street reflects the force on the joints of a 300 pound person standing still. Getting up and out of a chair increases the force to approximately 2-3 times the body weight. This also applies to going up and down stairs.

When an individual with excess weight engages in more vigorous exercises like jogging or jumping rope – or maybe riding down the road in your big rig – the forces on the joint can reach between four and five times the body weight.  This dramatically increases the force on the joints.

It is no surprise with this knowledge that being overweight increases the odds of back problems and pain. A correlation to having an enlarged abdominal area to the impact on your back would be to wear a backpack backwards with 40 to 60 pounds in it.

If you do experience joint pain consult your doctor.  Also consult your doctor if you experience the following along with joint pain:

  • Tenderness and warmth at the site
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Joint deformity
  • Inability to use the joint

How to manage and treat joint pain outside of what is recommended by your doctor:

  • Lose weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 64 oz of water every day)
  • Flaxseed oil is great for lubricating joints and strengthening cartilage.

Losing weight & eating healthy:

The moment you start losing weight, the cartilage that cushions your joints start building up. In doing so, you are less likely to develop osteoarthritis. A study conducted on overweight women who lost only 11 pounds decreased the odd of developing osteoarthritis by 50%.

By drinking approximately 80 ounces of water a day, you are able to provide your joints with adequate blood volume. In addition, drinking sufficient water helps remove waste from your joints.

Start low impact activities such as:

  • Swimming
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Stationary bike
  • Walking

Great strides have been made in improving the suspension capabilities of the professional truck driver’s seats. The Bose Ride® system was designed to help reduce the amount of shaking while driving down the road by up to 90%. Making strides in improving your health will greatly reduce the impact of this movement as you bring your cargo to its destination. Plus, you are sure to experience a better quality of life when outside of your truck too!

Let’s Get The Conversation Rolling

For a personal response to your health question, ask Ann Marie at askannmarie@lindora.com. Selected questions will be featured in future columns.

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