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Being overweight could be causing your knee pain

If you’re dealing with chronic knee pain and didn’t sustain an injury, you may need to consider body weight. Osteoarthritis in the knees can be caused by excess body weight. As our bodies shock absorbers, the cartilage between our knees and thigh bones go through more wear and tear when we’re overweight. Losing a few extra pounds can go a long way when it comes to relieving knee pain.

“Many patients come through our door with pain associated with their excessive weight,” explains Dr. Richard Hayes of Great Basin Orthopaedics. “Often that is our first interaction with the patient and by then damage has been done.”

In a British study, overweight women were three times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than those at a healthy weight. Carrying extra body fat can also lead to the releases of a hormone called leptin that may play a role in the development of osteoarthritis.

“Even when surgery can repair knee damage associated with excessive weight, the underlying problem needs to be addressed for long-term results,” says Dr. Hayes. “A sensible weight loss regime has to be part of the treatment plan.”

'Studies have shown that losing one pound of weight reduces nearly four pounds of stress from the knees. If you’re overweight or obese, the most effective way to reduce knee pain is reducing weight and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle to keep the weight off.

The National Institutes of Health recommends the following steps for exercising safely with knee pain.

Get a consultation.

Talk to your doctor if you have any chronic health problems or you're worried that exercise might cause an injury. If you already have knee pain, discuss types of activities with your doctor that might be safe for you.


Swimming or water aerobics are a great way to get your body moving. It’s easier on the joints, and a good start if you’re just getting into exercise. Once you’re more mobile and confident, you can try moving onto walking, indoor cycling, and strength training to build stronger muscles. Tight muscles can also lead to knee pain, so make sure to stretch, too.

Be more active.

Simply work more physical activity into your daily routine. Walk around while you're talking on the phone (that's why they're cordless!), play actively with your kids or grandkids, and make personal visits at work instead of using email.


Article references:

Premier Health website, Losing Weight Can Relieve Joints And Osteoarthritis, By Michael G. Raab, MD. Retrieved March 13, 2023

Verywell Health Website, How to Exercise With Bad Knees by Cherie Berkley, MS. Retrieved March 13, 2023