If you’re considering knee or hip replacement surgery, step on the scale first.
Extra weight may be contributing to your arthritis, and causing other health problems that can undermine your recovery.
By losing even a little bit of weight, ORA Orthopedics surgeon Dr. Joseph Martin says you can enhance your health while reducing your risk for surgical complications.
Weight and Overall Health
Excess weight has been associated with an increased risk for many health problems, from diabetes to high blood pressure and many diseases. Being overweight is also associated with arthritis.
“Weight is a big factor in arthritis,” Dr. Martin says. “Weight seems to accelerate the process of arthritis, especially in the knees.”
Dr. Martin says arthritis may begin during your 50s, when you feel pretty good otherwise. He says you should view it as a warning of what’s to come.
“If you’re overweight but still feel pretty good, know that it’s temporary,” Dr. Martin warns.
“You can get away with it in your 50s, but when you start to get into your 60s, you start getting diabetes, heart disease, nerve problems. If you’re able to address it and get healthier, it can really change the course of your life over the next 10 to 30 years.”
Weight and Total Joint Replacement
While losing weight will not reverse arthritis, it will result in a significantly lower risk for surgical complications.
Several complications – including infections and blood clots – are substantially more likely to follow joint replacement surgery in obese patients than in patients at a healthy weight.
“We also worry about heart episodes and wound healing in obese patients,” Dr. Martin says. “Losing any bit of weight will help.”
Try Low Impact Exercise
If you have arthritis, you know how hard it can sometimes be to move at all. So – if you can’t exercise without significant pain – how do you lose weight?
“We don’t expect people to be running and jogging,” Dr. Martin says. “I always recommend swimming and other low-impact activities, like working out on exercise machines and bike riding.”
Losing even a few pounds may mean a faster recovery, with a lower incidence of complications and a quicker return to your favorite activities.