Orthopedic Problems and Obesity

By Laura Stinson, PT

Obesity is something that can be treated at home.

Image of Orthopedic Problems Caused by Obesity.

Obesity Can Be a Factor with Orthopedic Problems

Orthopedic problems and obesity are interrelated. Obesity is on the rise in adults and children in the U.S. Most people know that obesity contributes to the development of coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer. Obesity is also a contributing factor to back pain and symptoms associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and spondylolithesis. Additionally, studies show that being overweight or obese increases the risk of orthopedic complaints. These complaints include things such as tendonitis, bursitis, overuse syndromes and surgical complications.

Being Sedentary Causes Orthopedic Problems and Obesity

Lack of exercise leads to poor flexibility and weak muscles in the back, pelvis and thighs. The result may cause an increase in the curve of the lower back and severe forward tilting of the pelvis. This type of posture increases stress on the lower back and may ultimately weaken other areas of the spine, such as the neck, which may also become painful. A sedentary lifestyle and an unbalanced diet can affect the bone density or strength of the vertebrae that may increase the risk of compression fractures in the spine. Disability suffered by obese subjects appears most strongly related to lower body pains such as pain in the feet, knees, heel pain, and nagging lower back pain. Such conditions have been reported to have major negative impacts on quality of life measures among obese persons.

Weight Loss Can Help

It is estimated that 63% of osteoarthritis in middle-aged women can be attributed to obesity. Current evidence suggests the increased risk of orthopedic ailments is more likely due to direct mechanical stress on the joint rather than metabolic factors. Studies following weight loss consistently show sustained improvements in physical function and reduction in pain. The major improvement in quality of living in people with the knee, ankle and foot pain supports the hypothesis that obesity causes or aggravates conditions producing these symptoms. Data on weight loss as a treatment for osteoarthritis has shown that even small amounts of weight loss have favorable effects. Studies show a reduction in weight can slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Weight loss and exercise lead to improvements in pain, disability and performance in obese elderly people with established knee osteoarthritis.


It is so important to start any type of exercise program.  You should check with your personal physician before starting any cardiovascular conditioning.  In your program, start slow until your body becomes accustom to the new exercises to prevent soreness.  Gradually increase the reps or minutes of exercise to your own tolerance.  Find activities that you enjoy taking part in because you are more likely to stick with a program that you like.  Find a partner to exercise with and you can both encourage each other to improve and stay motivated.  If you don’t know how to begin, the clinicians at JOI can certainly assist you in getting started.  Our goal is to have everyone live a healthy and pain free life!

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

If you are suffering from any of the above orthopedic conditions, JOI can help. Book an appointment with one of our experienced orthopedic conditions. To schedule, call JOI-2000 or schedule and appointment online by clicking the link below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician in Jacksonville.

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