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A natural way to treat osteoarthritis that could mean no surgery

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Orthopedic experts say try weight loss before surgery for osteoarthritis.

One in four in the U.S. suffers from arthritis pain, but there is a natural way to treat it before you consider surgery. Compared to the risks and cost of surgery, treating one of the biggest causes of osteoarthritis includes weight loss, which is much less expensive and safer. You will also gain other undeniable health benefits.

Weight loss could help prevent and osteoarthritis

Findings published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) suggest when we are overweight other factors come into play that lead to osteoarthritis besides wear and tear.

Ryan C. Koonce, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Skagit Regional Clinics in Mount Vernon, Wash., and one of the authors of the literature review said in a press release, "There's a clear link between obesity and osteoarthritis, and the link is both from biomechanical factors as well as systemic factors. The systemic component appears to be significant."

What Koonce is saying is obesity leads to inflammation that makes osteoarthritis pain worse. White fat causes an inflammatory response in the body that leads to pain and other health risks that include:

1. High blood pressure
2. Insulin resistance
3. More wear and tear on the joints
4. Generalized pain

Over 111,000 knee surgeries a year could be avoided with weight loss

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According to the AAOS, one in four Americans suffers from bone or joint problems. The result can mean use of chronic pain medications, doctor co-payments to specialists, decreased quality of life and increased risk for more injury from falls.

Recent studies show artificial knee and hip replacement surgeries are on the rise among Baby Boomers, with a 17-fold increase expected in the number of knee replacements by the year 2030.

How to get started

Exercise and activity are shown to be beneficial for arthritis and can also help you reach your weight loss goals.

You can add healthy foods that decrease inflammation to help stay full, control pain and reverse some of the effects of obesity to make weight loss a success.

Join a local gym and consider water exercises that are gentle on the joints. Try taking a walk 5 to 10 minutes 3 to 4 times day and split it up into sessions that are tolerable. You do not have to exercise to lose weight, though activity is recommended. Ask your doctor for a consult with a nutritionist to learn how to read labels and make healthy low calorie food choices.

The authors say approximately 111, 206 knee replacement surgeries could be averted each year with weight loss, but the approach is underutilized. Losing weight may be the one natural thing you can do if you are a patient suffering from chronic arthritis pain.

Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons