News Thursday February 17, 2011

Obesity affects knee arthritis recovery

Bariatric surgery may reduce knee pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis, but morbid obesity may do lasting damage to the knees, researchers have discovered after a series of new studies.

The five new studies will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and their results could give doctors greater insight into how obesity and knee arthritis are linked.

One of the studies examined 10 patients who underwent bariatric surgery to lose weight. The patients were all morbidly obese before the study, and all had knee osteoarthritis.

Following surgery, knee pain was reduced and knee function increased in all 10 patients.

However, Michael S. Sridhar from Emory University, who was involved in the study, said that morbid obesity may cause long-term and irreversible damage to the knees.

Two other studies looked at whether ‘super obese’ patients were more likely to suffer from complications after hip and knee surgery. One of these studies found that increases in the patient’s body mass index (BMI) were directly proportional to an increase in their risk of post-operation complications. The second study found that morbid obesity contributed significantly to a number of complications that arose following surgery.

Another study examined the connection between rising obesity levels in America, and rising numbers of patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) operations. The researchers concluded that the rise in the obesity epidemic could be accountable for 20% of the increased utilisation of TKR operations.

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