Weight loss may be a promising treatment for obese people with one of the most common joint disorders, according to a new study.
For those who are overweight or obese with knee osteoarthritis, losing 20 percent of their body weight can result in a 25 percent reduction in pain, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Arthritis Care and Research.
Researchers at Wake Forest University analyzed data from a previous trial that included 240 overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis and pain. Each lost weight over an 18-month period. Some had lost less than 5 percent of their body weight, some between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight, a smaller group shed between 10 and 20 percent of their body weight, and 20 percent or more of their body weight.
Everyone who lost weight improved in the areas of overall pain, quality of life, mobility, knee joint loads and inflammation. Researchers also found that the greater the weight loss, the greater chance of improvements in those areas.
More benefits were seen in the group that lost at least 10 percent of their body weight, and the best benefits were seen in the group that lost more than 20 percent of their body weight.
“Currently, there is no treatment that slows the progression or prevents this debilitating disease; hence, research has focused on improving clinical outcomes important to the patient,” Dr. Stephen Messier of Wake Forest University and lead author of the study said in a statement.
“A 10 percent weight loss is the established target recommended by the National Institutes of Health as an initial weight loss for overweight and obese adults. The importance of our study is that a weight loss of 20 percent or greater—double the previous standard—results in better clinical outcomes, and is achievable without surgical or pharmacologic intervention,” Messier added.
While the study was small, it showed that those who lost 20 percent of their body weight had an additional 25 percent reduction in pain and significantly higher quality of life compared to the group that lost 10 percent of their body weight.