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Can My Weight Make My Joint Pain Worse?Smiling lady    

Mary’s doctor told her that if she lost some weight, she would once again be able to sleep on her side because the arthritis in her hips wouldn’t hurt as much. She had been sleeping very poorly for months and was starting to develop signs of diabetes – a disease that runs in her family. Losing weight offered a way for her to take control.

For people with arthritis, weight increases joint pain. It can destroy the cartilage of the joints, especially hips and knees.


People affected by obesity are much more likely to develop arthritis in the knees and hips, making it hard to exercise. Without exercise, you can lose your ability to control pain and move freely, limiting your daily activities. Pain disrupts sleep, which also can make your health worse. Arthritis can lead to permanent disability, need for chronic pain medicine, and joint surgery.

HOW CAN I RELIEVE PAIN AND OTHER SYMPTOMS?Did you know 1 pound of weight loss equals 4 pounds of relief for your knees

Start easing your pain and other symptoms by managing your weight. Research shows that:

  • Every 1 pound of weight loss = 4 pounds of relief on your knees.
  • 15 pounds of weight loss can cut knee pain in HALF.

Where Do I Start?  

Managing your weight with a healthy diet and physical activity can help you Instead, pick just one thing you feel ready to focus on for the next. several weeks. Choose a goal that you believe you can achieve. Work on it for 6 to 8 weeks. Here are a couple of examples:

  • I will eat 3 cups of vegetables per day for at least 4 days per week.
  • I will work out by walking 3 days per week for 30 to 45 minutes.

Feel free to choose your own goal.                                                                                               Smiling man holding a soccer ball

John knew that the pounds had been creeping up for several years, but he didn’t make the connection between the excess weight and the pain in his knees until his doctor mentioned it. His doctor wants him to take off some weight to ease the pressure on his aching knees. Easing the pain was worth it to John.

Making Changes


There are many ways to get started. Here are a few ideas to choose from or you can make up your own:

  • Cut back on portion sizes.
  • Eliminate foods from your home that promote overeating.
  • Keep fresh fruit on hand for snacks.
  • Go for a walk after dinner.
  • Turn off the TV during dinner.
  • Move the TV out of the bedroom.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Add a vegetable to either lunch or dinner (or both) each day.
  • Pack your own lunch each day.
  • Make a new friend who wants to walk several days a week.
  • Buy a pedometer to track your steps taken each day.
  • Buy a bicycle and use it to ride to work or on weekends.
  • Plan a hiking vacation to a state or national park.
  • Join a physical activity program.

Are You Ready to Make Changes to Manage Your Salad in a bowlWeight?     


Managing your weight can improve your joint pain. Here are some websites that can help you adopt a healthier lifestyle:

  • CHOOSE MY PLATE – Learn about healthy eating, meal planning and portion control.
  • EAT RIGHT – Get tips on nutrition and weight loss or find a registered dietitian in your area.
  • TRACK + REACT – This new web tool and app allows people with arthritis to track their physical activity, diet and symptoms.
  • WALK WITH EASE – Learn about this physical activity program for people with arthritis and other chronic conditions. It has been shown to reduce pain and improve health.
  • OBESITY ACTION COALITION – Learn more about how obesity impacts your health, treatment options and weight bias.
  • YOUR WEIGHT MATTERS – Take the Your Weight Matters Challenge today and talk to your healthcare provider about your weight.
  • AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR NUTRITION – Find valuable resources to help you live a healthier, more productive life, including scientific statements on topics like energy balance and the latest nutrition research.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Commit to making a change. Fill out the action plan below and keep it attached to your refrigerator or mirror so you can see it every day and stay motivated. Use the resources above to help you reach your goal.


Today’s Date is: ___________________________ My weight today is: ______________________________________

My current measure of pain is: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (circle a number)

I want to lose ____________________ pounds in ____________________ months.

The reason I want to take off 10 pounds is (fill in the reason below): ________________________________________




The single change in my lifestyle that I am tackling right now is: ___________________________________________




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