Whether you want to walk the Appalachian Trail or just get from the kitchen to the living room, you can't get from point A to point B without your knees.

These trusty joints have helped carry you wherever you've wanted to go in life!

And therein lies the problem.

Over time, the cartilage in your knees can break down and wear away, leaving you with the excruciating ache of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

And there's no pill in the world that can replace that cushioning once it's gone.

But if you're on the heavy side, your doc may suggest that you get "laparoscopic gastric band" (a.k.a. "lap band") surgery to lessen your misery -- because a new study links the procedure to a significant reduction in knee OA pain.

But the lap band only works because it helps you shed pounds... and you DON'T need an operation to do that!

In the study, New York University researchers assessed the pain scores of a group of obese folks with knee OA both before and one year after they had lap band surgery.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who lost the MOST weight had nearly DOUBLE the OA pain relief of those who lost the LEAST.

Now, what's striking here is that whether the participants lost a lot or a little, they all had the SAME surgery.

And that means that it wasn't the lap band itself that improved their knee pain... it was the degree of WEIGHT LOSS!

You see, when you're carrying around extra weight, it puts more strain on your knee joints and speeds up the breakdown of cartilage.

It's kind of like driving your car around with a trunk full of cargo: Your tires simply wear down more quickly.

What's more, excess fat tissue produces inflammatory chemicals that further damage your joints, worsening the sting of OA.

So, there's no doubt that slimming down will benefit your knees.

But lap band surgery is not only pricey -- it also comes with unpleasant side effects from constipation to acid reflux.

And ANY time you go under the knife, you risk excessive bleeding... infection... heart damage... and even memory loss.

So, if knee OA makes you wince with every step, try natural ways to zap those pounds instead.

Studies have shown that the best diet for losing weight -- and KEEPING it off -- is the Paleo (a.k.a. "caveman") diet.

It eliminates all of the grains, sugars, and processed foods that widen your waistline in favor of protein and produce that hold blood sugar steady, allowing the pounds to simply fall off.

Of course, getting some exercise will help, too.

If your joints ache too much to do even gentle activities like walking and yoga, try swimming or water aerobics, which take the weight off your knees.