New research has shown once again that exercises for OA plus with weight loss is the best way to reduce your pain and improve your function.
The research was led by a highly respected researcher Dr. Stephen Messier PhD who is a Professor and Director of the J.B Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University. He has been at Wake Forest for 31 years and has 23 years’ experience in clinical trials research specifically related to knee osteoarthritis so this guy really knows his stuff when researching exercises for OA.
The study was an randomized clinical trial which is generally considered the best type of trial. Plus it was done over a reasonable time period (so should give good long term results) with a reasonable number of subjects.
The objective of this study was to
whether a ≥10% reduction in body weight induced by diet, with or without exercise, would improve mechanistic and clinical outcomes more than exercise alone.
To do this he used 3 methods over an 18 month period:
1. Intensive diet-induced weight loss plus exercise.
2. Intensive diet-induced weight loss.
3. Exercise alone.
When reporting the outcomes he uses 2 levels of outcome:
1. Mechanistic primary outcomes: knee joint compressive force and plasma IL-6 levels (how high the persons inflammatory markers were)
2. Secondary clinical outcomes: self-reported pain, function, mobility, and health-related quality of life.
What I particularly like is that he uses objective outcome measures primarily and then uses subjective measures secondarily. That way you take out some of the placebo effect but do still take it into account. After all pain is only a perception so if you perceive less pain then you have less pain so these subjective outcomes still have merit.
This outcome is important for two reasons. Firstly improving function is vital to slow the rate of wear and if you function better then your joint is under less stress and you have less pain. Secondly reducing the plasma IL-6 levels shows that inflammation is less. The inflammation is not from the actual wear and tear but is from the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint which are under stress trying to protect the joint.
Interestingly this study shows
Concentrations of IL-6 were lower in diet + exercise (2.7 pg/mL; 95% CI, 2.5 to 3.0) and diet participants (2.7 pg/mL; 95% CI, 2.4 to 3.0) compared with exercise participants (3.1 pg/mL; 95% CI, 2.9 to 3.4)
This shows it was the diet that reduces the inflammation and not the exercises.
(Click here if you want to read more about this study on Diet and Exercises for OA.)
This follows on from what I was talking about a few weeks ago in my post Osteoarthritis Weight Loss : a radical new train of thought? where I posted a video about some research that shows reducing calories and fasting helps the body repair itself. It is actually the reduction in calories (the ONLY way to lose weight. Whether you use Weight Watchers, Atkins or whatever kind of diet the end result is that you take in less calories so lose weight.)
So Will Exercises for OA Plus Weight Loss Help All Joints and Not Just the Knee?
This finding that it was the reduced calories that helped with plasma IL-6 levels (i.e. the inflammation) and not the exercises is the key. It means it is NOT the reduced mechanical pressure on the joint from the weight loss as the exercises will help with that too and the results were the same if you exercised or not.
It is the actual diet that is helping. This mean it makes no difference whether the joint is weight bearing or not; the inflammation around it will be decreased. Then add exercises to a sensible weight loss program and you too could get a good reduction in your pain and stiffness, getting out and about and enjoying a better quality of life.
How To Reduce Your Weight Plus Get A Program of Targeted Exercises for OA
As I said in my previous post I am getting great results with the 5:2 diet but I do know it won’t suit everyone. I have come to the conclusion weight loss is very individual and it has to suit you mentally, as well as physically.
Some people drop weight better cutting carbs, while others by simply reducing the amount they eat. Others do better having carb days and protein days. Everyone is different!
Some people are better being weighed weekly in a group and having support while others hate that. Which do you prefer? Personally I hate group things (maybe I am just unsociable!) but my mum always lost loads more weight going to be weighed each week and having a chat with fellow sufferers after!
However with exercises for OA it is a little easier. There are specific exercises you can do that will help the vast majority of people. It is really more about which exercises you do when, how many of each exercises you do and how often you should do them. That is much more individual and will depend on a number of factors.
It is also why I think Joint Control is still proving so popular. My books, How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally, give you all the information you need, including a questionnaire so you do the right number exercises of the correct exercises. However people still seem to be willing to pay the extra and get the one on one help of my Joint Control Program of Exercises for OA. I thought the book would be the much more popular due to the price but that is surprisingly not the case as I sell about the same amount of both.
So here we have it once again some simple natural treatments are shown to be very effective in controlling osteoarthritis pain. Taking measures such as reducing your weight and doing exercises for OA are risk free (as long as the exercises are suitable for someone with osteoarthritis and for the amount of degeneration you have). Unlike some of the medication we are given…..