Many can rationalize that elevated body mass may promote pain in the lower limbs. After all, your lower body bears the stress of holding you up.

But new research associates body mass index, or BMI, with greater pain severity in the knees, feet, and hips, as expected, but also in the hands, in people with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, caused by “wear and tear” on the joints over time. It differs from rheumatoid arthritis because it is not an autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

This new study suggests, however, that inflammation can contribute to osteoarthritis.

Being overweight or obese is associated with a host of health problems. Like heart disease and diabetes, many of those problems are driven by inflammation. Excess body fat is associated with higher levels of systemic inflammation, which may lead to pain in seemingly unrelated conditions.

According to this new research, body weight may have a systemic impact that leads to joint pain in the hands and the rest of the body. It appears joint pain may be less about weight than how excessive body fat impacts immune response.

Researchers looked for an association between BMI and pain in 281 people with osteoarthritis. They found that each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with more severe hand pain.

BMI is a measurement of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. You can find a number of BMI calculators online.

If you’re suffering from pain in your hands and wrists due to osteoarthritis, you may get some relief by attempting to pull your BMI back into the “normal range.” Limiting processed foods, eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean protein, as well as including more activity into your day, can all help.

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