According to a recent study, losing or gaining weight can both affect the success of joint-replacement surgeries. The new study found that patients who lost weight after knee-replacement procedures had better results with pain as well as function and activity levels compared to those that gained or maintained their weight. However with knee or hip-replacement procedures and patients, weight gain led to poorer outcomes. The study was presented at the March annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to the senior investigator and director of researcher in adult reconstruction and joint replacement at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, physicians need to inform their patients how important it is to maintain their health and to stay at a healthy weight. Ultimately, this will help them achieve their overall goal with this surgical procedure.
The researchers of the study looked at body mass index changes during the time frame that 7,000 patients received these knee or hip replacements. They found no change in BMI of nearly 84% hip patients and 74% knee patients. They also discovered that patients who were obese before the joint-replacement surgery were more likely to lose weight than those who were just overweight or maintained a healthy weight.
The study’s researchers also found that obese or overweight women were more likely to lose weight than average weight men or women. Also, those who were more active before their joint replacement surgery were more likely to maintain their weight then lose or gain.
According to Westrich, their findings show that weight loss does directly affect improved clinical outcomes, while weight gain results in more negative results. He continued that the study’s researchers did not find these results surprising in any way.
Another small study was done with just 20 obese patients who had weight loss surgery and 40 patients who had knee replacement due to arthritis. One year after the procedure, the patients who had weight loss surgery had significant improvements in pain in their knees and other joints comparable to those who had just the knee replacement.
According to the study, the weight-loss patients had greater improvement in knee function just six months after surgery then the knee-replacement surgery patients. However, the difference is relatively small. The study still shows how much losing weight can affect pain and function in obese patients. According to weight loss patients who had arthritis in their knee prior to surgery, they had less improvement then those who didn’t, but still functioned better than those who had replacement surgery.
The study shows that doctors should consider weight loss surgery an option for obese patients who have knee problems without advanced arthritis in the knee. The same should hold true for hip replacement patients. While these two studies are preliminary, they show a pattern of how weight affects joints and how losing weight can help improve function and reduce pain.
Nearly 719,000 knee replacement and 332,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reports.
*It’s important to note that any conclusions or data reported at meetings are preliminary until they are published in a professional medical journal.