Being overweight and obese not only increase people’s risk of heart disease and stoke, but also gradually damage their knee leading to pain and functional impairment. Knees are particularly vulnerable to injury when increase mechanical load like carrying too much body weight.
Knees support the weight of the body and transmit forces from the ground. Body weight is transmitted equally through knee joints in standing on both legs. But while standing in one leg, 5/6th of body weight is transmitted through the weight bearing knee joint. During weight bearing activities, we need to do bilateral and unilateral support.
If our body weight is perfect as well as condition of muscle and bone is normal, we do not suffer knee problems. However, with aging, our body weight increases, fat gets deposited, muscle and bones get weak. Osteoarthritis (a common form of arthritis causing pain during movement of the joint) also starts with the increase of age.
The higher is our body weight, the weaker is our knee muscles. When our body weight is more than we should have, we are putting more force on that knee joint and as a result, biomechanical problems such as knee pain, knee dysfunction, knee instability arise. Ultimately knees get degenerated and we suffer in movement disorders such as very difficult to bend knees, walking, standing, stair up/down, sit stand and so on.
In a recent study from Netherlands showed that those who were overweight had three times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. Another research shows that a 10% decrease in weight will result in a 28% increase in function (such as climbing stairs and walking).
If you already have knee pain, get consultation with a doctor and physiotherapist. They can prescribe medicine, suggest appropriate activities and exercise programme those are safe for you.
Heavier people can practice walking, bicycling (indoor or outside) and strength training to build stronger muscle. The main goal is to lose weight loss — something that you can do on your own and you can afford. It might save you from knee surgery.
The write up is compiled by Dolilur Rahman, Assistant Professor and Consultant of Physiotherapy, American Hospital, Dhaka.