It’s a weighty issue, that doctors are being forced to tackle, added pounds that are jeopardizing their patient’s bone health.
“And the fact that carrying extra weight there’s a mechanical load that’s applied to your joints that causes premature degeneration of the articular cartilage,” says Dr. Charles Springer, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
It’s widely accepted that obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis, which is the leading cause of joint replacement surgery.
“Given that over 50% of my patient population has to deal with osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, shoulder. I will tell you that from personal experience patients will come in and they’ll want to get back to a normal pre-injury level where there’s no pain, no range of motion (problems) and with no restrictions in their activity. However, a lot of times I’ll have to have a conversation regarding patients’ weight because that is a direct effect,” says Dr. Springer.
Knee replacements alone have tripled in the last decade in people under 65. Some pointed to aggressive marketing campaigns, or baby-boomers desire to stay active. But actual statistics point to a larger issue- our growing size.
“Typically it’s the weight baring joints. It's the ankles, the knees and hips first - and also the lumbar spine,” says Dr. Springer.
Joint replacement surgery may be a fix, but excess pounds may continue to weigh down a patient’s recovery.
“That is a direct effect on not only them feeling better in the short term but long term,” says Dr. Springer.
Many doctors now advise patients to lose weight before surgery and be prepared for a lifestyle change afterwards.