Joint replacement surgery involves excision of the damaged portions of a joint such as the knee – or the complete replacement of the joint with artificial parts. Hip and knee replacements are the most common joint surgeries, with total knee replacements rapidly outpacing hip replacements.
Arthritis is the leading reason for joint replacement – and a large number of arthritis sufferers are also overweight or obese. Research shows that excess pounds contribute to joint pain and damage.
In fact, the condition that most negatively impact joint function is obesity, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It’s also why so many patients have to postpone or cancel joint replacement surgery, as some surgeons will not accept very obese patients.
The Impact of Obesity
Obesity is a major contributor to the increasing need for joint replacement surgery among younger people. Obesity overloads weight-bearing joints, wearing them away, necessitating joint replacement surgery.
And yet, it is precisely these obese patients who tend to have less successful and lasting outcomes after surgery. Functionally, obese patients do not fare as well or recover as quickly as those with normal weight.
Obese patients suffer more complications from joint replacement surgery than normal-weight patients. The risk increases with higher BMI scores. For example, obese patients with BMIs in the 40-to-50 range suffer from post-surgical complications such as infections, wound-healing problems, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes, and prosthesis failure.
Patients who are obese are also more likely to have other conditions that increase the likelihood of a poor outcome after a joint replacement surgery.
Benefits of Weight Loss Prior to Knee Replacement Surgery
Losing extra weight, even just 5 to 10 percent of total body weight, can significantly improve a patient’s post-surgical prognosis.
This is because each pound of body weight lost removes equal to 5 to 10 pounds of pressure from the knee joint. A 10-pound loss relieves a whopping 50 – 100 pounds of pressure from the knee joints. This immediately relieves weight, pain, discomfort, and restores function and mobility. Sometimes it can eliminate the need for surgery.
When obese patients lose weight before a joint replacement surgery, the surgery itself will be easier, recovery faster, and results longer-lasting.
Seek out a reputable, board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who can educate you about your options. The staff at Orthopaedic Associates utilizes cutting-edge therapies and traditional treatments to address a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call (440) 892-1440.