How Obesity Affects Knee Pain

Obesity has become a severe epidemic in America over the last few decades, and its negative effects are too numerous to count. Joint damage is just one of the troubles an obese person can face, and the knee is a joint that is most often the source of pain for an overweight individual.

The knee is a complex joint that consists of the meeting of shin bone, thigh bone, and kneecap, all brought together around a protective cushion of cartilage. The purpose of the cartilage is to prevent the bones from grinding against one another, while absorbing the impact from activities such as walking or running. In an obese person’s body, this cartilage degrades more quickly due to the increased force and impact generated by normal activity. The loss of cartilage can cause an immense amount of pain when the bones begin to grind together, and can eventually require knee surgery to correct.

In addition to the extra strain on cartilage in an overweight person, there can be critical injury to soft tissues in the knee. Ligaments and tendons that keep the knee stable and strong become stretched out and can even tear. The knee becomes unusable and may buckle or fail, putting the patient at risk of additional injury related to falls and accidents. Repair of soft tissue problems such as these usually require knee surgery to be alleviated.

Another effect of being overweight that can result in knee pain are hormones and substances created in the body when extra fat stores are present. These substances can cause inflammation in the body, further aggravating a painful knee condition. These anatomical chemicals have also been linked  to osteoarthritis, very often in the knee area. Further degeneration of the cartilage is possible, causing more pain and suffering for the patient.

Obesity has a drastic impact on many joints in the body, but most frequently manifests itself in the form of knee pain. To reduce the likelihood of needing knee surgery while also minimizing the potential for other dangerous medical conditions, work with a physician to learn how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at any age. If you have any questions regarding knee surgery, the providers at Specialty Orthopedic Surgery are happy to help you.

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