Joints


Why Do My Back and Joints Hurt After Bariatric Surgery?

Man holding back while doctor touches it with both hands

You’ve likely been told that many of the aches and pains associated with obesity are because of the excess weight and strain placed on your joints due to the added weight. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that, as you lose weight, those joints and the pain should get significantly better. Obesity launches a two-pronged assault on the body, particularly the joints. On the one hand, the excess weight places additional strain on the joints, making it more difficult for patients to move freely and, over time, wearing away the thin cartilage layer separating bony structures. This is known as osteoarthritis. However, adipose or fat tissue also contributes to chemical releases that attack the joints and break them down further. If obesity is so bad for the joints, why then will many patients experience aches and pains after bariatric surgery?

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Why Excess Weight Wreaks Such Havoc on the Joints

Man holding knee while stretching out foot

Excess weight and obesity have been definitively linked to osteoarthritis, the early degeneration of the joints. As the prevalence of obesity and morbid has increased in the United States and worldwide over the past few decades, we have seen an increasing number of patients who visit us with serious and sometimes debilitating knee, hip, and back pain. We have seen more of these patients, typically younger than in years past.

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Having an Orthopedic Procedure After Bariatric Surgery

Orthopedic surgery and bariatric surgery often go hand in hand when excess weight causes premature joint ware

Decades of excess weight may have caused you to experience significant joint pain. This joint pain is common in those suffering from obesity and is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the soft cartilage between our joints, which essentially acts as a protective layer between bones, begins to degrade. You can imagine how the constant excess weight rubbing on the structures can wear them down over time. The result can be significant pain that may lead to the need for joint replacement surgery. Most commonly, this occurs in the knees and hips, but can occur almost anywhere in the body. If you have visited an orthopedic surgeon about your chronic pain, and you have a BMI of over 40, you’ve likely been told that a procedure is too risky and that you must lose some weight prior to surgery.

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