Medically reviewed by
Dr. Rodney Alan
Obesity is an increasingly common comorbidity among patients with orthopedic conditions. Obesity adversely impacts patient care, the healthcare system and every organ in the body. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or have obesity.
“The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons encourages their members to educate patients on the negative effects of obesity on their musculoskeletal health, as well as the increased risk of obesity on orthopedic pre- and post-surgical complications and poor outcomes,” explains McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Rodney Alan. “Obesity can be detrimental to your health because it will increase the severity of the symptoms caused by musculoskeletal conditions such as tendinitis and arthritis, especially in the lower extremities and the lumbar spine.”
Complications From Obesity
Experts estimate that for every pound you weigh, your knees feel the force of 4 pounds of pressure when you take a step. For example, 10 pounds of extra weight puts an additional 40 pounds of pressure on your joints. This means that minor fluctuations in body weight will have a tremendous impact on the symptoms associated with musculoskeletal conditions.
There are many other orthopedic complications associated with obesity:
The effects of obesity on surgical outcomes are well-documented, which include higher rates of infection, impaired wound healing, as well as the failure of implants following a joint replacement.
Best Tactics for Losing Weight
Losing weight is the key to reducing stress on your joints. Weight loss can be accomplished by developing healthy diet and exercise habits. Choose an activity that you are capable of performing on a regular basis. Adults with severe arthritis should choose low impact activities such as water aerobics or cycling. When you’re active, your body uses energy (calories) to move, helping to burn the calories you take in when you eat.
Diet is more important than exercise as patients age. Some tips for dieting include:
When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can prevent or even reverse the effects of many diseases including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, certain types of cancers, and even mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Before beginning a diet or exercise program, consult your physician.
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