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.
Losing weight not only reduces the likelihood of infection, but it can extend the life of the implant and even help your orthopedic surgeon visualize the joint more clearly, for better placement of the prosthesis.
If you qualify, your orthopedic surgeon may even suggest bariatric surgery as an effective way to lose the weight and keep it off. Taking this step may preserve function in your existing joints and could potentially lengthen the useful life of the artificial joints that will be implanted.
Some patients find that the weight they lose from their bariatric procedure prolongs, or even eliminates, the need for the orthopedic procedure they thought was inevitable. While this is not always the case, losing the excess weight, by any safe means, has no negatives as it relates to the joints.
If you are suffering from obesity, you likely already know that your care is collaborative. It often requires several specialists to address your healthcare strategy, including managing all the considerations you may be experiencing. Similarly, the road to weight loss, and the elimination of joint pain, is often an effort that requires the participation of your primary care physician, your bariatric surgeon, and your orthopedic team. These specialists will work together to offer you the best solution to reach your goals most safely and effectively.