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Can Losing Weight Help Me Avoid a Joint Replacement?

Posted on: October 8th, 2021 by Our Team

The answer is, yes it’s certainly possible. It is a known fact that weight loss can significantly improve pain specifically related to joints. Why is this you ask? Well, the answer is simple. The more load you put on a joint the more wear and tear occurs over time. This can lead to a faster degradation of cartilage, lending you to the possible need for joint replacement.

Is there research to prove this concept?

There are numerous studies looking at body weight and it’s relationship to our weightbearing joints. This fact alone points to how important this topic really is.

One study conducted in Australia looked at a group of 23,916 participants 45 years or older and evaluated the association between weight change and the need for knee or hip replacement over a period of 5 years. They categorized the population into four groups: >7.5% weight loss, > 5-7.5% weight loss, stable weight, and > 5% weight gain. The study found that those that lost >7.5% body weight were associated with a reduced risk of needing a total knee replacement. The study also found that weight gain increased the risk of total hip replacement. More information of this study can be found here.

In addition to extra weight increasing the need for joint replacement, studies have also shown that weight loss can significantly improve joint pain. It has been discovered that for every 1 pound of weight loss there is a 4 fold reduction in stress on the joints, mainly knees and hips. Meaning, for every 1 pound of excess weight there are 4 pounds of extra stress on the joint. It is pretty simple to see that the more stress there is on a joint the more pain you will likely be in. The increased load can lead to more inflammation which in turn causes pain. Read more about this study here.

What else can contribute to Arthritis?

Unfortunately in some cases, weight loss alone does not prevent the progression of arthritis and the need for Joint Replacement Surgery. The cause of arthritis is multi-factorial in nature. Body mass certainly plays a big role but there are also important components to consider. Some other factors include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Activity level
  • History of trauma
  • Previous surgery of the involved joint

But, if you were able to modify one of these contributing factors, wouldn’t you like to try?

I Am in Need of a Joint Replacement, Can weight loss still help me?

Absolutely! In the short term, weight loss can help wound healing and speed up recovery time. Think about it… the less tissue that needs to be repaired the quicker the healing time. In addition to increased healing time, weight loss can lower your risk of blood clots, infection, and the need for reoperation. These are all very serious complications of a total joint replacement, some of which can be life threatening.

You may be thinking…. How can I loose weight if I can’t exercise? It’s true, joint pain can affect your ability to do certain exercises, however, it absolutely does not prevent you from the ability to loose weight. Request an appointment here with one of our experienced San Diego care providers to discuss an achievable weight loss plan today!