Losing weight can ease arthritis pain. Healthcare professionals should counsel patients who weigh more than recommended on weight loss to ease arthritis pain.

Talking to Arthritis Patients about Weight Loss

Weight loss eases arthritis pain and improves the quality of life of adults living with arthritis, especially if they are overweight or have obesity. More than 54 million US adults have arthritis. Among adults with arthritis, 39 million are overweight or have obesity.

Healthcare professionals can counsel their arthritis patients to lose weight if they are overweight or have obesity. Research suggests that patients who receive weight counseling from a healthcare professional are almost 4 times more likely to attempt weight loss than those not receiving counseling. Adults with arthritis can decrease pain and improve function by being at a healthy weight. Weight loss is a non-drug way to manage arthritis and ease joint pain.

Female healthcare provider in lab coat speaking with female patient

New Study on Weight Loss Counseling Arthritis Patients

A new CDC study found that healthcare professionals’ counseling for weight loss for adults with arthritis who are overweight or have obesity increased from approximately 35% in 2002 to 46% in 2014. Still, more than half of adults who have arthritis and weigh more than recommended are not receiving healthcare professional counseling to lose weight.

Healthcare professionals should talk to their patients about physical activity and nutrition options to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Healthcare Professionals: Tips to Improve Your Arthritis Patients’ Health

  • Counseling for achieving or maintaining a healthy weight—Research confirms that maintaining a healthy weight can limit disease progression and activity limitations. For every pound lost, there is a 4-pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee. That means that a modest weight loss (5% or 12 pounds for a 250-pound person) can help reduce pain and disability.
  • Counseling for low-impact physical activities—Physical activity eases arthritis pain. Walking, biking, swimming, and water activities are all good non-drug ways to ease arthritis pain and are safe for most adults. These forms of physical activity can also improve joint function and mood. Healthcare professionals should discuss physical activity options with their patients to determine what’s most appropriate.
  • Advising 150 minutes per week—Adults benefit from 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, such as brisk walking. That may sound like a lot of time, but physical activity can be spread out during the week. It can even be broken up into smaller chunks of time, such as 10 minutes at a time throughout the day.
  • Promoting physical activity classes—Recommend proven community-based classes available at local YMCAs, parks, and recreation or community centers that can teach adults with arthritis how to exercise safely and feel their best. These classes have been shown to reduce pain and disability related to arthritis, and improve movement and mood.
  • Suggesting self-management education classes—Recommend locally available, proven self-management education workshops designed to teach people with arthritis and other chronic conditions how to control their symptoms and to develop more confidence in managing health problems affecting their lives. Often people who have experience living with arthritis or other chronic conditions lead these classes.

Source: CDC


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