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  • Jessica Frizzell, PA-C

Why Weight Management Matters When You Have a Rheumatic Disease



Weight management goes hand in hand with rheumatic disease management.

When you maintain a healthy weight, you lessen your rheumatic disease progression.


How so?


Let’s discuss how your overall wellbeing improves when you attain and maintain a weight appropriate for your height and body structure.


The Impact of Inflammation


It’s no secret that rheumatic diseases are directly linked to inflammation. Excess fat also increases inflammation. When you put the two together, the overload of inflammation can be debilitating for a person that is overweight.


What is the connection between inflammation and obesity? The simple answer is that fat tissue releases pro-inflammatory chemicals. An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information provides a more in-depth explanation:


“Obesity is the accumulation of abnormal or excessive fat that may interfere with the maintenance of an optimal state of health. The excess of macronutrients in the adipose tissues stimulates them to release inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 6, and reduces production of adiponectin, predisposing to a pro-inflammatory state and oxidative stress.”


There is good news, though. Weight loss is known to decrease inflammation. A reduction of body fat leads to a reduction of those pro-inflammatory markers.


The Consequence on Cartilage


Rheumatic diseases are often referred to as connective tissue diseases and arthritis diseases. Cartilage is the main type of connective tissue throughout your body, so it is critical to do all you can to slow down cartilage deterioration if you have a rheumatic disease.


The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center describes how “being overweight increases the load placed on the joints such as the knee, which increases stress and could possibly hasten the breakdown of cartilage. For example, it is estimated that a force of nearly three to six times one’s body weight is exerted across the knee while walking; an increase in body weight increases the force by this amount. However, overweight has also been associated with higher rates of hand OA in some studies suggesting the involvement of a circulating systemic factor as well.”


Your joints need healthy cartilage to function as they should. By losing weight, you lower the speed and rate of disease progression and cartilage degeneration.


A Problem with Pain


Many patients with rheumatic diseases experience high levels of pain. If you are looking for a way to relieve some of your pain, losing weight is an excellent starting point. A WebMD Expert Blog states:


“Extra body weight increases mechanical forces on the frame of the body, including the knee and hip joints, the spine, and supporting muscle groups, which can cause added wear and tear. Studies suggest that dropping just one pound can reduce four pounds of pressure on the knees, and that for patients with arthritis, the more weight they lose, the better their pain relief and function with daily activities. Extra weight, especially in the abdominal area, seems to increase levels of inflammation in susceptible parts of the body like aching joints.”


When trying to achieve a healthy weight, even small amounts of weight loss can be celebrated. Every pound matters.


The Importance of Weight Management


Weight loss is a journey, and not an easy one. Our healthcare team is here to help you discuss your weight loss plans alongside your disease management. We can offer suggestions for healthcare partners who specialize in weight loss and give advice and encouragement as you embark on your weight loss journey. Give us a call at 270-408-6100 today to schedule an appointment at Paducah Rheumatology.


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