Losing Weight can Slow Down Deteriorating Knee Cartilage, Study Finds
Obese adults who have knee osteoarthritis, which occurs when knee cartilage deteriorates, should be focused on losing weight.
"Degenerative joint disease is a major cause of pain and disability in our population, and obesity is a significant risk factor," said lead author Alexandra Gersing, M.D., from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, said reported in the news release. "Once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed."
According to a new study, losing a significant amount of weight can help slow down the knee cartilage degeneration rate. For this study, the researchers examined at least 500 overweight and obese Americans taken from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. The participants were either at risk of or already had mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Obesity increases one's risk of developing this condition.
The team randomly assigned the participants into three groups: control group, minimal weight-loss group and a 10 percent weight loss group, meaning that people lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. They used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze cartilage damage.
"Through T2 relaxation time measurements from MRI, we can see changes in cartilage quality at a very early stage, even before it breaks down," Dr. Gersing explained.
After four years, the researchers found that people who lost a significant amount of weight did not lose as much of their cartilage in comparison to people who did not lost weight. The researchers noted that the more weight a participant lost, the more protection they had against cartilage degeneration.
"Cartilage degenerated a lot slower in the group that lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, especially in the weight-bearing regions of the knee," Dr. Gersing, said reported by HealthDay via U.S News and World Report. "However, those with 5 to 10 percent weight loss had almost no difference in cartilage degeneration compared to those who didn't lose weight."
The researchers stressed the importance of incorporating lifestyle interventions early on.
The study's findings were presented at the Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago.