Obesity or being overweight is now recognised as a serious cause of ill health. Obesity is associated with significant orthopaedic problems and losing weight was found to have positive effects on relief of symptoms from all these conditions.   

1. Osteoarthritis  - in Knee, hip and hand joints 

2. Osteoporosis   

3. Low Back Pain   

4. Tendonitis  

5. Nerve compressions  

6. Trochanteric Bursitis   

7. Plantar Fasciitis   

8. Gout  

9. Fibromyalgia 


Osteoarthritis is a common disabling condition which affects normal daily life activities which is caused by obesity. Other lifestyle factors are also associated with osteoarthritis like level of joint activity, lack of exercise, muscle weakness, and joint injury. Of these muscle weakness is common in obesity. Obesity triggers osteoarthritis by transmitting excess weight on the weight bearing joints like the knee and the hip.   

Knee Osteoarthritis  

Knee Osteoarthritis is caused due to the excessive weight burden on the knees in an obese and overweight person. This is the most common arthritis especially, in the Indian subcontinent.    

While walking an individual exerts 3 to 6 times pressure that of the body weight on the weight-bearing knee joint, which means in an obese with excess body weight, larger forces are exerted, which lead to higher risk of deterioration of cartilage.    

In addition, there are excessive fat tissues that produce hormones and other factors that affect the joint lining and cause inflammation of the joints giving rise to joint pathology.   

Hip osteoarthritis  

The force transmitted across the hip is 3 times that of body weight. Hip osteoarthritis is caused by factors such as joint injury, increasing age and being overweight.      

Hand osteoarthritis   

Obese people also have a higher risk in having hand osteoarthritis due to the metabolic effect produced by fat tissue.   


Osteoporosis is a progressive bone condition that is characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density, reduced Bone Mineral Density (BMD) which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Recent research suggests that obesity may accelerate bone loss. It is the amount of muscle mass which is seen in an active person, which accounts for bone strengthening effects and not due to the fat seen in a heavy person.    

Low back pain   

Low back pain from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine is one of the most disabling conditions in the community and overweight and obesity have the strongest association with seeking care for low back pain.   

Other conditions   

Obesity is a also a risk factor for:   

* Upper extremity tendonitis (inflammation of tendons) causing pain in shoulder, elbow, wrist  

* Nerve compressions in wrist and elbow causing painful hand symptoms and weakness.   

* Plantar fasciitis which is a common cause for heel pain.  

* Trochanteric bursitis, causes frequent lateral hip pain in elderly and middle-aged individuals.   

* Gout which is characterised by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. It is formed by the deposition of monosodium urate crystals and can also present as kidney stones, soft tissue lumps.  

* Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder resulting in pain, disturbed sleep and altered mood.