Arthritis plagues millions of people, and when it's located in the knees, it can adversely impact quality of life. Some arthritis sufferers try medication, while others resort to gels and creams. Now a new study is offering a different solution: Weight loss plus exercise, which significantly eased pain and inflammation, reported Fox News on September 25.
Conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the study showed that the combination of diet plus exercise "was superior in virtually every outcome," said lead researcher Stephen Messier.
Study participants who reduced calories while increasing their exercise experienced improvements in inflammation, pain and mobility. Researchers noted that being overweight raises the risk of knee osteoarthritis, which results from problems in the joint cartilage.
To conduct the study, researchers instructed 454 overweight and obese adults with mild or moderate knee arthritis to undergo either 18 months of exercise, 18 months of diet supervision or both. Those dieting received a goal of losing a minimum of 10 percent of their body weight.
The diet involved replacing some meals with shakes, going to nutrition counseling and attending weight monitoring sessions. The exercise plan required an hour of working out three times a week.
At the end of the study, those who dieted and exercised lost an average of 23 pounds. The diet-only participants lost almost 20 pounds. And those who only exercised shed only four pounds.
"No one expects diet and exercise to have a huge impact" on osteoarthritis, said Dr. Amanda Nelson, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Thurston Arthritis Research Center. And she emphasized the importance of seeking support if needed to lose weight for pain relief from knee arthritis.
"Patients should be encouraged that any weight loss is likely to be beneficial, and the more they can do the better," she added.