Many massage clients seek healthy touch to provide respite from arthritis pain—and the number of such clients could grow greatly in the future. New research shows that men who are overweight or obese are at much higher risk of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee than men who are of normal weight.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is a primary cause of physical disability among older people, according to a press release from the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, which published the research online.
More than 17 million Americans age 65 and older have osteoarthritis in at least one joint. As the population ages, this number is expected to grow exponentially, and massage therapists will encounter more clients with the disease.

People who are overweight are known to be more likely to get osteoarthritis of the knee, but this is the first study to show that being overweight is a risk factor for hip osteoarthritis in men but not women.

Researchers compared the body mass indexes of 1,473 Icelandic people who had undergone hip or knee replacement with those of 1,103 people who had not had joint replacement surgery. All were born between 1910 and 1939.
They found women who were overweight (BMI>25) were no more likely to have had a hip replacement than women of normal weight, but men were. Men who were obese (BMI>30) were 70 per cent more likely to have had hip replacement surgery.

People of both sexes who were overweight were much more likely to have had knee replacement surgery and the more overweight they were the more likely it was. Men who were obese were five times more likely to have had a replacement knee and women four times more likely.

The authors say: “The study supports a positive association between high BMI and total knee replacement in both sexes, but for total hip replacement the association with BMI seems to be weaker, and possibly negligible for women.”
Click here to view the paper in full.