Weight Loss Effective for Pain Reduction in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis

Weight loss combined with exercise can reduce pain and improve mobility in patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to a study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

“Long-term intensive diet and moderate exercise can improve mobility and reduce pain by as much as 50%,” study author Stephen P. Messier, PhD, stated in an American College of Rheumatology news release.

Through the Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis trial, the researchers investigated 454 overweight adult patients (average age 65.6 years) with pain caused by knee osteoarthritis (OA). Patients were selected randomly to lose weight during an 18-month period, either through diet restriction, the combination of dietary restriction with exercise or only exercise.

Weight loss goals of 10% of body weight were set for the diet groups, with the exercise groups being required to participate in 1 hour of low-to-moderate walking and resistance training 3 days a week. Changes between the groups were compared after the 18-month trial.

Overall, 399 participants (88%) completed the study. The researchers determined 85% of all participants had bilateral knee OA. The diet and exercise group saw a mean 11.4% weight loss, with the diet only group experiencing a mean 9.5% weight loss. The exercise-only group lost a mean 2.2% of their body weight.

According to the study results, measures of pain, function and mobility were all improved to a greater degree in the diet and exercise group. The researchers thus concluded that intense weight loss coupled with an exercise program could lead to the greatest improvement in patients with knee OA — with an approximate 50% reduction in pain.

For more information:

  • Messier SP, Nicklas BJ, Legault C, et al. The intensive diet and exercise for arthritis trial: 18-month clinical outcomes. Paper #722. Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting. Nov. 4-9, 2011. Chicago.

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