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Obesity – Is It A Cause For Avoiding Joint Replacement Surgery?

April 20, 2019 by admin0

Obesity and orthopedics have a relation. Obese patients, if diagnosed with knee or hip replacement for arthritis, often are told to lose substantial pound before surgery. Quite obviously, patients feel disheartened and disappointed after hearing such things.

In most cases it is seen that obese patients have toiled hard to lose some pounds but were hardly successful. Their pain of arthritis decreases activity and prohibits them from exercise. As a result, they gain weight instead of losing it. So, telling them to lose weight prior joint surgery is like telling them that the surgery is not possible.

Obesity – Why is it an obstacle to joint surgery?   

What surgeons recommend obese patients might be disappointing but it is rational. People with excess weight have greater risk of complications and they are lesser chance of experiencing pain relief that is usually expected after such major operations. Several studies have even shown that after knee or hip replacement, overweight people experience more of dislocations and infections and less of good results.

However, many of the studies are quite old and latest studies show a different picture altogether. Recent study on benefits and risks of joint replacement amongst obese patients shed new light.

Obese is not a Bar to Joint Replacement   

New study says that obese does not preclude any joint replacement. Researchers have surveyed 5000 people who had knee or hip replacement surgery and analyzed their functioning and pain six months before and after surgery. Their analysis has brought the following results –

  • Patients with excess weight experienced poorer function and more pain before surgery than lean people.


  • Functional gain of obese patients after six months of surgery was significant. Their gain was similar to the one experienced by lean persons.


  • Pain level after joint replacement was same for people of all weight. Pain relief was much greater amongst people with obesity than others.

Thus, it is concluded that obesity cannot deter joint replacement surgery. However, there are chances of more complications which this study has not examined.

With problems of arthritis and obesity significantly rising in India, this study is likely to help many people. Researchers are also of the opinion that surgeons must change their view regarding surgery of obese patients having severe arthritis. However, avoiding obesity is always preferable though there are many evidences that joint replacement is not limited to lean persons. Thus, fewer obese people will now likely to turn down for joint surgery.

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