Patients Who Lose Weight Have Better Joint Replacement Outcomes

(This installment is in follow up to the previous post)

Total joint replacement for painful osteoarthritis is an increasingly common procedure. Osteoarthritis, although felt to be caused by a number of factors, has been associated with excessive body weight. It can be thought of as a mechanical overload. For example, studies have shown that every pound of body weight places four to six pounds of pressure on your knee.

For the same reasons, the results including the durability of joint replacement can be negatively impacted by excessive body weight.

Although many patients feel that they are carrying too much weight as a result of their joint pain limiting their ability to exercise, and that once their joint is replaced they will get the weight off, recent studies show “the majority of patients maintained the same body mass index “BMI” (after joint replacement) that they had prior to surgery.

Furthermore, studies also show that “weight loss is associated with improved clinical outcomes (better results, i.e. more symptom relief and longer joint replacement lifespan) while weight gain is associated with inferior outcomes.”

The conclusion, therefore, that we should come to is that patients (with symptomatic osteoarthritis) are best served by optimizing their body weight not only because it will help with one’s overall health (i.e., diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer) but because you may be able to avoid joint replacement altogether (or at least make that procedure much safer, make the results more predictable and, make the results more lasting as well).

If you are experiencing joint pain that you think may be due to arthritis, we would encourage you to call and make an appointment for an evaluation at Orthopedic Physicians Associates, 206-386-2600.

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

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