According to the CDC, more than one third of adults in the United States are obese. That means a third of adults in the U.S. have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

Not only does obesity cause additional health complications like diabetes and heart disease, but being obese also places one at higher risk of developing orthopedic problems.

Medical experts consider obesity a strong risk factor for pain. Obese adolescents are more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal pain compared to their normal weight peers. Chronic pain doubles with obese older adults.

Obesity and Joint Problems

Osteoarthritis is one of the joint problems associated with obesity. Researchers have found that excessive weight can add more pressure on the knee joint, increasing the likelihood of wearing down the surface that cushions the joint. This increases one’s chance of suffering from osteoarthritis (OA).

OA is the most common chronic condition of the joints caused by the breakdown of cartilage. This leads to pain, swelling, and difficulty in movement. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that obese individuals are four to five times more likely of developing osteoarthritis than someone who is at an average weight.

Total knee replacement (TKA) is a common surgical procedure done to alleviate the pain caused by moderate to severe knee arthritis. It involves replacing the damaged cartilage and a part of the underlying bone with prosthetic knee joint. The need for TKA is 8.5 times higher among those with BMI of 30 or higher compared to those with normal BMI.

Surgical Risks

Obese patients are at higher risk of postoperative complications such as wound infection, heart attack, urinary tract infections, and nerve injury. For this reason, it is often recommended that obese patients lose weight prior to their arthroplasty procedure.

Bariatric surgery is often a viable option for these patients. Weight loss surgery helps you lose weight by reducing the size of the stomach through a gastric band or by re-routing the small intestine to a small stomach pouch. A study shows that weight loss surgery prior to joint replacement improves the outcome in obese patients.

If you’re struggling with obesity and suffering from joint pain it may be time to speak with your physician about your options. If weight loss surgery is part of your journey to relief from obesity-induced joint pain, Foothills Weight Loss Specialists will be there to help you through the process every step of the way. To learn if bariatric surgery could help you, contact our office today at 865-984-3413, or register to attend a free informational seminar with one of our bariatric surgeons.