Obesity and Knee Replacement
Obesity Linked to Complications After Knee Replacement Surgery
If you choose to have knee replacement surgery, your surgeon will discuss with you a pre-surgery checklist. If you are overweight, that list may include losing a few pounds before your surgery.
A literature review published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) concluded that obese patients have a higher risk of complications after total knee replacement surgery. And because of these complications, they are more likely to require a second revision surgery later.
“For people with joint problems, obesity is an important factor to understand,” explains Brian S. Cohen, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Adena Bone & Joint. “For example, it’s a risk factor for osteoarthritis, the effects of which often lead a person to need joint replacement surgery.”
When patients with arthritis come to Adena, nonsurgical therapies are an important first step.
“We always want to try physical therapy, medications and steroid injections before we look at surgical options,” Dr. Cohen notes. “But for patients who are overweight, I also always recommend a healthy diet and exercise program that will lead to weight loss. Losing just 10 pounds reduces the pressure on the knees by about 40 pounds, and that’s a significant improvement for people with osteoarthritis.”
The JBJS article notes that obese patients have twice the infection rate as non-obese patients following a knee replacement surgery and that their long-term surgical revision rate is almost double as well.
“It’s important for patients who are obese to understand their risks and what they can do to mitigate those risks,” Dr. Cohen says.
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