Pounding Around: Weight-Related Knee Problems

It’s a sensitive subject to breech, but if you’re struggling with knee pain, your weight could be a factor. As obesity in America increases, so do weight-related knee problems. Bodyweight has an enormous impact on the legs and joints, and the knees are no exception. Unfortunately, pain and damage are all too common—but there is hope for your knees.

Weighing Down Your Joints

Learn about weight-related knee problemsYour knees are crucial joints in your legs. They allow you to both support yourself and to move around. They absorb shock and impacts, as well as help your leg move forward efficiently. They have numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments connecting and supporting them, along with smooth, cushioned layers of cartilage in between the bones to protect them from wear and tear.

Your bodyweight affects how much shock and pressure your knees must support and absorb when you take a step, jump around, or are otherwise active. Because of gravity and the act of striking the ground, your knees actually feel the strain of more than one and a half times your full bodyweight when you walk on flat ground. This increases when you run, jump, or even walk up an incline. The heavier your body is, the more pressure comes down on your knees, forcing them to work harder to keep you upright. This also compresses and wears down the protective cartilage over time.

As a result, the heavier you are, the more prone you are to knee injuries, particularly ones involving wear and tear.

Common Weight-Related Knee Issues

The most common weight-related knee issue is arthritis. The compression on your cartilage from excessive weight over time slowly grinds it down and thins it out. This then allows the rough, exposed ends of your bones to grind together painfully and damage your knee joints further. Higher body fat also increases inflammation factors in your body, which can influence arthritis as well. This could potentially contribute to other inflammation-related problems in your knees, too, including the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis.

Hope for Aching Knees

Weight-related knee pain is manageable. The most important and effective treatment strategy will be to lose weight. With a little work, you can significantly reduce the stress and strain on your knee joints and alleviate discomfort—preventing arthritis damage in some cases, and relieving pain for people who already have it. Losing even one pound of excess weight can reduce up to four pounds of pressure on the knees. Strengthening your joints can be helpful in reducing stress there as well. Physical therapy stretches and exercises are particularly beneficial for this and for maintaining your range of motion.

If you are struggling with weight-related knee problems, you’re not alone. There are ways you can help your knees and alleviate the pain you’re living with. You don’t have to accept it as your “new norm”—and you really shouldn’t. Our teams at Castle Pines Physical Therapy and Cherry Creek Physical Therapy are more than happy to help you take care of your joints. Make an appointment at our Castle Pines office or Cherry Creek, CO office in Denver, today through our website. You can also call us directly at (303) 805-5156.