Weight loss may reduce knee osteoarthritis pain even if the osteological symptoms are not treated, a study concluded.
To determine whether body-mass index increases knee pain independently of arthritis severity as measured by osteophytes and joint space narrowing visible on X-rays, researchers looked at self-reported survey responses of nearly 4,800 people who were part of the Osteoarthritis Initiative. People answered questions about osteoarthritis, excess weight, and pain. Arthritis was assessed by baseline X-rays on right knees that were scored on a composite quasi-Kellgren and Lawrence grade.
Results appeared online June 17 at Rheumatology.
The results confirm that knee pain does increase with higher BMIs, the author noted. It adds the conclusion that this occurs independently of other factors, such as osteoarthritis severity. Mechanical stresses from weight, leptins in adipose cells that regulate inflammation, and the possibility that obesity regulates pain are all possible links.
“Even though OA severity may not be reversed and the osteological traits will likely increase, a lower BMI should reduce pain resulting from knee OA,” the author concluded. “Whether the decrease in pain is a result of changes in biochemicals or a reduction in mechanical stresses placed on the knee is difficult to ascertain. Research has also revealed that physical activities reduce pain caused by OA, and excess body weight is often tied to reduced activity levels. To be active, however, weight loss may need to precede the physical therapy. Doctors should work with patients to explore effective weight loss techniques.”