TMH Living Well: High BMI associated with osteoarthritis in men |

TMH Living Well: High BMI associated with osteoarthritis in men

Tom Doty/The Memorial Hospital
Tom Doty, Physician Assistant-Certified, The Memorial Hospital
Courtesy Photo

Get your BMI checked at The Memorial Hospital Health Fair

7:30 a.m. to noon April 11

The Memorial Hospital, 750 Hospital Loop

Pre-registrations suggested

For more information, call 970-824-9411 or visit

All men will suffer the loss of joint mobility as they age. The amount of loss and the effect it will have on their lives varies tremendously. The heavy weight-bearing joints of the body — hip, knee and spine — demonstrate significant range of motion deficits in most men of middle and old age.

Usually, men in these age groups assume that it is a result of the strenuous activity and injuries that they acquired when they were younger and stronger. However, this is usually not the case. For most, the lifestyle habits and behaviors adopted during adulthood are the culprit.

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, occurs when the protective cover, or cartilage, of the bones diminishes or completely erodes. This will result in a combination of pain and mechanical inefficiency that usually forces men to live with permanent restricted movement in the affected joint or joints.

There are many factors that contribute to the loss of cartilage and many of them can be controlled by the patient, the most important of which is body mass index. The BMI is a screening tool to determine if you are overweight or obese. It measures how much mass a person is carrying on their skeleton. For example, a man who is 5’ 9” and weighs 125 to 168 pounds is at a healthy weight, with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. Generally, if your BMI is 25 or higher you are not only at risk for joint mobility issues and osteoarthritis, but you are also at a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Excess mass is very taxing on the body, especially in the aging adult. Orthopedically, it is responsible for many of the joint problems suffered by men. All one needs to do is carry a heavy backpack around for a few hours to experience the effect. And remember, while you may have adapted efficiently to this extra load as a youngster, the aging adult body is not programmed to recover and rebuild.

Carrying extra weight in adulthood is a form of slow destruction. Fit individuals that possess high BMIs mistakenly believe that they are exempt from this development. This is not the case. Those with high BMIs, whether fit or sedentary, have a dramatically increased rate of arthritic symptoms when compared to those with appropriate BMIs.

As a matter of fact, those who have trained for muscular growth, such as body builders, can experience symptoms earlier in life than their sedentary counterparts. The high-tension training that is required for muscle growth can dramatically increase the pain symptoms of cartilage loss.

Although simple in design, the BMI has scientifically been proven to be one of the most important health indicators, and every adult should be aware of their own measurement.

The goal in orthopedics is to maintain pain-free movement. Balancing functional attributes — strength, mobility, flexibility, etc. — while maintaining an appropriate BMI will be the best defense for avoiding the symptoms of osteoarthritis and the diminished quality of life that follows.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig – improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

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