An ageing population which is getting more obese and less active could mean that the number of people with knee arthritis could double by 2035.
There is a popular myth that exercise is bad for the joints which doctors need to overcome by prescribing more exercise to both prevent and treat arthritis.
Obese people are 6 times more likely to suffer from arthritis as their joints struggle to cope with their weight.
The medical director at Arthritis Research, Professor Alan Silman, said ” People increasingly understand that diet and exercise can reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes. We need a similar focus on on reducing arthritis which can affect millions and blight their lives. Arthritis is not inevitable, nor should living with pain every day be acceptable. It’s time for a new approach to reduce the risks of developing the condition”.
One study found that obese women who lost 5kg halved their risk of developing the condition while exercise helped to treat it. People who lose 10% of their body weight can expect to see big improvements in their symptoms according to a rheumatologist and lead author of the Arthritis Research UK report.
Osteoarthritis is the most common condition resulting from wear on the joints and about 150,00 people have their hips and knees replaced every year costing the NHS £2 Billion. Arthritis is also the most common reason to be off work sick costing the economy 30 million working days each year.
The Chief Medical Officer for England has called arthritis an “unrecognised public health priority” which can devastate the lives of sufferers.
Middle aged people need to be alert to early twinges in the joints which should be a wake-up call to lose weight and do more exercise. Knowing they could avoid joint pain might be a bigger motivator than knowing you could avoid diabetes or dementia.