Knee Osteoarthritis: Does weight loss help?


physical-therapyBy John R. Mishock, PT, DPT, DC; Owner of Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease of aging frequently treated in physical therapy. Osteoarthritis of the knee joint occurs when the cartilage that separates the thigh and leg bone wears out or breaks down. Twenty five percent of people over 55 years demonstrate persistent episode of knee pain related to OA.

Could reducing body weight be an alternative to drugs and surgery for knee pain due to osteoarthritis? When you walk, the joints of the ankle, knee and hip take on a force 3-6 times that of your body weight. An extra 10 pounds of body weight puts an additional burden on your knees of 30-60 pounds. Now figure that the average person walks around 5,000 steps per day (10,000 is recommended) that is an extra 15,000-30,000 pounds of pressure on those vulnerable joints. Not only will the extra pounds cause swelling, pain and discomfort it will also accelerate the “wear and tear” of the cartilage in the knee joints.

When you lose weight, it will not reverse the damage to the cartilage, but it can ease the symptoms and minimize the progression of the damage to the joints. Losing weight is not easy. It is recommended that an individual loses 1-2 pounds per week. The best way to do this is through diet and exercise. One pound of body weight is equivalent to 2,500 to 3,000 calories. In order to lose one pound per week there must be reduction in calories by 2,500 to 3,000 calories. If you add daily exercise of 30 minutes per day, as recommended by the American Heart Association, that would burn approximately 200 calories per day or 1,400 calories per week.
If you reduced your caloric intake per day by just 150 calories per day you would be on your way to a 2,500 calorie reduction for the week or 1 pound of weight loss. This is a simplistic view of weight loss, however, it is all about “calories in versus calories out (burned)”. It is not easy to lose weight, however, our physical therapy team can help you in the weight loss journey by setting you up on a program that will help you lose weight and reduce your knee pain.

Our staff would welcome the opportunity to help you lose weight, decrease pain, improve your function, and return you to the highest quality of life possible. We are here to serve you with six convenient locations in Skippack, Gilbertsville, Barto, Phoenixville, Limerick and Stowe! For more information or to make an appointment please call 610-327-2600, email, or visit us online at

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