Osteoarthritis Weight Loss Plan: 10 Strategies to Reduce Pain

We Provide Joint Pain Treatments in Cary, NC

Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that occurs when your cartilage experiences excessive wear and tear. Your cartilage is the protective cushion at the ends of the bones. Osteoarthritis usually affects joints in the hands, knees, hips, knees and spine. If you don’t seek joint pain treatments from a rheumatologist and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can worsen with time, eventually preventing you from exercising, working, and enjoying your hobbies. At Empowered Arthritis & Rheumatology, in Cary, NC we specialize in joint pain treatments. Call us today to schedule a rheumatology consultation and find out how we can help you manage your osteoarthritis symptoms. One of the most effective strategies we recommend for osteoarthritis pain is weight loss. Here are 10 helpful strategies to reduce osteoarthritis pain.

Understand Why Weight Loss Helps Osteoarthritis Symptoms

People who are overweight are four to five times more likely to develop arthritis in their knees and ankles. Losing weight can reduce your risk of osteoarthritis and ease the pain of osteoarthritis symptoms if you already have the disease. Losing weight relieves pressure on the knee, hip, and ankle joints. Over time, carrying excess weight puts excess stress on your joints and increases the wear and tear on cartilage. Even losing just 10 pounds can relieve 30-40 pounds of pressure on your knees. Losing weight can also reduce the levels of inflammatory proteins in your body. You may experience reduced inflammation, swelling, and edema, even in joints that don’t carry weight. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight can be the most effective joint pain treatment possible – you can reduce your joint pain by half!

Visit a Rheumatologist

You should always consult with your rheumatologist and primary care physician before making any dramatic changes to your diet or lifestyle. Your rheumatologist can assess your symptoms and overall health, and make sure that you’re creating a diet that is sustainable and healthy. It’s important not to attempt a starvation diet or suddenly and dramatically reduce your calories. This can affect your overall nutrition and health and cause additional health problems. It also isn’t sustainable in the long-term, and can lead to frustration or depression. Your rheumatologist will help you create a safe, healthy, and effective weight loss plan that is appropriate for your age, weight, symptoms, lifestyle, and overall health.

Create a Weight Loss Plan

Working with your primary care physician and a rheumatologist to create a formal weight loss plan will increase your likelihood of successful weight loss. Having a plan in place and goals to work towards will make you more confident and enthusiastic. In addition to working with your rheumatologist and primary care physician, you may also work with a physical therapist and a dietitian or nutritionist to develop meal plans and goals that will help you lose weight safely.

Set SMART Goals (comment: SMART goal need to be referenced)

Setting goals for weight loss will give you a road map for your weight loss journey and make it easier to recognize and celebrate success along the way. SMART goals are particularly effective for weight loss, as they help guide you towards goals that are in line with improving your physical and mental health and sticking to your weight loss plan. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific – Goals that are too broad may be harder to reach or measure and can end up leaving you frustrated. Set specific daily and weekly goals, like increasing your daily step count by 500, or increasing your daily activity by walking 20 minutes per day.
  • Measurable – Measurable goals make it easier to track your progress and stay motivated. An example of a measurable goal is maintaining a food diary, tracking your steps, and weighing in every week.
  • Attainable – Your weight loss goals need to be reasonable and attainable so you won’t get discouraged and give up. You want to set goals that are challenging, but not so difficult that they are overwhelming. Consider goals like increasing your daily step count or losing four pounds per month.
  • Relevant – Your goals should be meaningful and relevant to you, or they won’t work. Think about the reasons you want to lose weight and develop goals around those reasons.
  • Time-Bound – You need to create time limits for your goals or you won’t be able to measure your progress. For instance, if you want to lose 10% of your body weight, give yourself a 6-month or year-long time frame in which to do it.

Start With Easy Changes

Start by making simple, easy changes that are sustainable. If you try to make huge changes right away, you may give up before you can see progress. Your first step should be limiting excess sugar consumption and making a commitment to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables each day and increasing your water intake. After a few weeks, you can make additional changes, like increasing your whole grain and fiber intake, switching to lean meats, getting more protein, and increasing your daily exercise.

Keep a Food Journal

Keeping a food journal will help you measure your progress, and it may offer insight into your eating habits. Your rheumatologist and primary care physician can also use your food diary to identify areas of concern or dietary issues you need to work on or improve.

Stay Accountable

Your food diary will also help you stay accountable, as will working with your rheumatologist and primary care physician. You can also improve your accountability by letting your friends and family know about your weight loss goals, joining a support group, and reviewing your goals and progress every week.

Maintain Reasonable Expectations

If you have unreasonable or unrealistic expectations, you’re more likely to give up. Your primary goals should be improving your health and relieving your osteoarthritis symptoms. You can achieve this by eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein. If you tell yourself you’re going to lose 20 pounds in your first month and you only lose five, you may feel overwhelmed and depressed and give up. Instead, work with your rheumatologist and team to determine realistic goals and expectations.

Choose Low-Impact Exercise

Some forms of exercise can be hard on your joints and end up increasing your joint pain. Ask your rheumatologist to recommend low-impact exercise instead. Daily exercise can help with weight loss, and it will also lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, improve your circulation and metabolism, reduce inflammation, and improve strength, flexibility, and mobility. Building stronger muscles offers better support to your spine and joints and also improves your chances of successful weight loss.

Seek Support When Needed

Make sure you have a reliable support system on your weight loss journey. If you have trusted friends and family you can turn to for support as needed, you’re more likely to have success. They can also celebrate with you as you reach goals and milestones, which can further encourage you to continue your routine. You can also look for online support groups for weight loss.

Consult With a Rheumatologist in Cary, NC

If you’ve been Googling “rheumatologist near me in Cary, NC” because you need joint pain treatment, come see us at Empowered Arthritis & Rheumatology Center PLLC. We specialize in diagnosing and treating arthritis and rheumatic diseases and assisting patients with personalized treatment plans that improve their quality of life and reduce their symptoms. Our board-certified rheumatologists have decades of experience, and can help you begin your journey to weight loss and better health. Call us today or contact us online to request an appointment.

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