Excessive Weight and Joint Problems
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Nutrition
Arthritis is typically associated as an old person's health problem, so
doctors and other health practitioners often do not expect that obese
children might face the same painful experience. Consequently,
arthritis symptoms frequently are not treated promptly because they are
most likely not accurately diagnosed until the pain becomes severe.
Growing pains and certain diseases, like chicken pox and mumps, are
regarded almost as rites of passage in youth development. However,
there are other signs of arthritis that when noticed should alert you
to have your child visit a doctor immediately. Does your child complain
of pain around the joints upon waking up in the morning? Are the joints
swollen? Do you notice limping?
Dr. Thomas Lehman of the Weill Medical College at Cornell
University reminds parents that if joint pain is felt by repetitive
movement, its source is likely arthritis. One in every thousand
children, obese or not, gets arthritis. The discomfort in earlier
stages is usually mild, as only one in 10,000 children get the more
severe form of it. He adds that a doctor must be sought immediately to
evaluate the situation, even though it is not a life-threatening
disease. This is because the symptoms might worsen or, on the other
hand, even disappear in a few days.
Obese children are 30 times more likely to develop osteoarthritis
than others with normal range weight. This is because excess weight
puts additional stress on the joints that when prolonged causes
internal damage, and pain is subsequently felt. The joints commonly
impacted are the knees and hips. Pain is noticed on the affected part
(knee most likely) upon the initiation of movement, such as when
arising from a sitting position. In the later stages of the disease,
the pain extends beyond mere activity and may be a bother even when
Since obesity can be the root cause of this problem, obese children
should begin a doctor-monitored weight reduction program to relieve
pressure on the joints. Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but treatment
is aimed at minimizing pain and managing mobility of the joints. At a
physician's discretion, treatment may consist of medication,
occupational therapy, and physical therapy. In worse cases, surgery
could be an option.
Exercise is an important component in weight loss and treatment of
arthritis for obese children. It would be best to coordinate such an
effort with an occupational or physical therapist so that the program
is custom designed specifically for your child's individual needs.
Also, a healthy diet is a critical element. Disciplined eating habits
will help control your child's weight. Meanwhile, applying a heat
compress on the affected joints can relieve some of the pain when
medication is not taking effect. And have your child wear
well-cushioned shoes to support the excessive weight.
In summary, if an obese child has swollen joints and joint pain,
those two signs are sufficient to warrant a visit to a physician. These
are warning signs that the cause could be arthritis since the disease
has become fairly common in obese children nowadays. Added pressure on
the joints from the excess weight is the primary cause. Reducing weight
is one of the most effective of treatments. Of the steps that can be
taken to help, plan an exercise program with an occupational or
physical therapist. Eat a healthy diet to both initially halt continued
increase in weight and then also to gradually begin making a steady
impact on the reduction of weight. And of course, take the medically
recommended drugs to relieve pain.