Osteoarthritis, or OA as it is commonly called, is the most common joint disease affecting middle-age and older people.
It is characterized by progressive damage to the joint cartilage, the slippery material at the end of long bones, and causes changes in the structures around the joint.
These changes can include fluid accumulation, bony overgrowth, and loosening and weakness of muscles and tendons, all of which may limit movement and cause pain and swelling.
For the study, Swedish researchers measured the body mass, waist, waist-to-hip ratio, weight and percentage of body fat of 11,026 male and 16,934 female members from the general population-who ranged in age from 45 to 73 years-and of that group, 1,022 OA patients who had undergone joint replacement surgery were identified 11 years later
Then, researchers compared 471 patients who had total knee replacement and 551 patients who had total hip replacement due to OA with those who did not to define the relationships between body mass and knee and hip OA leading to joint replacement.
They also explored the relationships between C-reactive protein, metabolic syndrome and the incidence of severe knee and hip OA.
After taking into account other important risk factors, including age, sex, smoking status, other illnesses, C-reactive protein, and physical activity level, researchers determined that being overweight by any measure identified was associated with knee OA leading to joint replacement.
Of all measures, a higher body mass was the biggest risk factor associated with developing severe hip or knee OA for both men and women.
The study has been presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, California.