Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder with symptoms in the hands, knees, hips, back, and neck. Being overweight increases the load placed on joints like the knee, which increases stress and could possibly speed up the breakdown of cartilage that occurs naturally over time. For example, it’s estimated that a force of nearly three to six times a person’s body weight is exerted on the knee while walking, so an increase in body weight increases the force by this amount.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
    This includes joints that become increasingly painful the more a person moves, or that stiffen up and become very rigid after a great deal of movement.

  • Stiffness
    Muscles and joints may seem immovable when waking up in the morning, which is often called morning stiffness. Stiffness can also occur after sitting for an extended period of time. After a few minutes of moving around, the stiffness often subsides. But, if it takes significantly longer than 30 minutes to loosen up, or if the sensation never eases, this can be an indication of osteoarthritis.

  • Tenderness
    This includes experiencing pain and tenderness when joints are touched lightly.

  • Swelling
    Swelling is almost always an indication of a problem, whether it’s caused by arthritis or an injury. For people with osteoarthritis, long-term use of worn-out joints can irritate and inflame the surrounding cartilage and tissues, which can cause swelling.

  • Loss of flexibility
    People with osteoarthritis are typically not able to move a joint through its full range of motion.

If left untreated, osteoarthritis can become a debilitating condition and lead to other serious complications.