Arthritis, PT, and Weight Loss

Last week, I slammed the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports PT (JOSPT) for not including nutrition in their CPGs regarding concussions. This week, I want to laud them for including a great meta-analysis on knee, hip, and spine osteoarthritis (OA) in relation to weight loss in this month's journal.

As physical therapists (PTs), we know that musculoskeletal disorders like knee, hip, and back OA account for a huge portion of healthcare spending. We also know that OA of these joints greatly impacts quality of life, function, and ultimately long-term disability. Physical therapists do their best to offer cutting-edge treatment like exercise and patient education.

Current research shows that people with arthritis can greatly reduce their pain, improve their movement, and restore their strength with physical therapy. Often the best treatments are active exercises, education, activity progression, and manual therapy to initially help to reduce pain. Dry needling has been shown to have moderate evidence for effectiveness in reducing arthritis pain and disability in patients with knee arthritis. While dry needling is great, just providing needling care is not enough for best practice.

What else can help with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee? A recent study in the JOSPT highlighted how exercise plus dietary weight loss was better than exercise or weight loss alone in reducing disability associated with hip and knee arthritis. This means paying attention to your nutrition once you’ve begun an exercise routine can have significant positive effects on your motion and function. Traditionally physical therapy exercises are not enough!

Integrating simple changes to a patient's diet can help reduce inflammation and promote weight loss. Our online physical therapy continuing education courses highlight many important studies linking nutrition with arthritis. Studies show that reducing body fat can reduce systemic inflammatory markers. Such inflammation can provoke and sensitize tissues to send signals to the brain that pain exists. Moreover, dietary changes may influence gut bacteria, which may also benefit the brain and its perception of pain through neuro-hormonal signalling along the gut-brain axis. Finally, many plant-based foods are rich in anti-oxidants and fiber, which can help mediate free radical damage and leave a person more calorie deficient state (leading to weight loss).

Knowing that PT and weight loss through nutrition helps arthritis is one thing; knowing how to guide the patient to change their diet is another. The JOSPT article highlights behavioral change as a major factor for promoting weight loss. We discuss several methods of behavior change in our board-approved PT continuing education courses that can lead to positive dietary changes and weight loss. Knowing what motivates a client, using goal setting, and reinforcing choices with accountability all can lead to significant dietary changes and weight loss.

If you like what you see here then know there is more in our 3 board-approved continuing education courses on Nutrition specific for Physical Therapists. Enroll today and use the 20OFF for 20% off our first course!


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 Keywords: nutrition, continuing education, arthritis, PT, physical therapy, weight loss, CEH, CEU, PDR

Disclaimer: The above article is written as opinion piece and does not convey specific legal and/or practice act advice. 

Image reference: Marco Verch by CC 2.0


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