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How Obesity Can Worsen Rheumatoid Arthritis

Written by Advanced Surgicare on March 11, 2018

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful and sometimes debilitating autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the lining around the joints. This inflammation can destroy the bones and cartilage, causing pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion or function of the joints.

For years researchers have investigated the link between RA and obesity. Not only has it been established that obese people are more likely to develop RA, but research also indicates that obesity can actually worsen cases of RA. Below, Dr. V. Kuzinkovas, a Sydney weight loss surgeon at Advanced Surgicare, explains why obesity and RA are a painful and dangerous combination.

Excess Weight Exacerbates Joint Inflammation

Fat cells create and release proteins called cytokines, which, in excess, can cause chronic inflammation in the joint tissue. Gaining weight leads to more of the cytokines circulating in the body, exacerbating inflammation and the severity of RA.

Lowers Treatment Response and Odds of Remission

Obese patients are less likely to respond to traditional drugs used to treat RA, including Remicade and Humira, than patients of a normal weight. Obese patients also have dramatically lower chances of reaching remission (i.e., having very few or no signs of RA).

Increases Risk of Other Diseases

The combination of obesity and RA can increase the chances of developing other serious diseases, such as:

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • fibromyalgia
  • depression
  • lupus
  • hypertension

Increases the Risk of Disability

Obese or overweight individuals with rheumatoid arthritis have a much higher risk of disability; the increased inflammation and resulting pain, swelling and stiffness may make it difficult to move around.

Losing Weight Can Help People with RA

Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy weight may be challenging for people struggling with obesity, but it has been proven to help those with RA. Losing weight can lower inflammation, reduce the pressure and pain on the joints and decrease the risk of other dangerous conditions (e.g., heart attack, stroke, diabetes).

If you are overweight and have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it makes sense to explore your weight loss options, including bariatric surgery, with a trusted doctor. To make your appointment with Dr. Kuzinkovas, please call Advanced Surgicare on 1300 551 533 or email on today.

Posted Under: Obesity