Body Weight and Total Joint Replacement

Total joint replacement is an orthopedic procedure intended to help relieve the pain associated with end stage arthritis. It is an elective procedure – in other words there is no clinical urgency to replace a joint.

As an elective procedure, it follows that: 1) one make sure that more conservative treatment measures cannot adequately control the pain, and 2) that one’s overall medical condition is optimized prior to proceeding surgically.

Excessive body weight, “obesity,” has been associated with other medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. These other medical conditions can have a significant negative effect on orthopedic surgical risk (more risk of surgical complications) and outcome (less than optimal predicated results from surgery). Recent studies, however, identify obesity itself as a risk factor that can not only lead to orthopedic conditions such as arthritis but can also compromise the safety of surgery and the ultimate results.

Given that your goal should be to avoid elective orthopedic surgery if possible, or at least to make yourself an ideal surgical candidate as possible, the best treatment recommendation an orthopedist can give you is one that you can do for yourself – obtain and maintain an ideal body weight. By doing so, you may be able to delay and in some cases potentially avoid joint replacement surgery altogether.

If you would like to discuss this or any other orthopedic bone and joint issues you may have, please call us at 206-386-2600.

Contributed by Todd J. Seidner, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon

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