Obesity Takes Heavy Toll on Knee Arthritis

More than 14 million visits were made to physicians' offices in 2008 by patients with knee problems. Five new studies presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) look at the effect that obesity has on knee arthritis and a patient's ability to recover from knee surgery.

Does Obesity Cause Irreparable Damage To Knees Despite Weight Loss? One new study found that while weight loss via bariatric surgery may improve knee pain in obese patients with knee osteoarthritis, there may be permanent damage to the knee from being morbidly obese.

The investigation included 10 morbidly obese patients with knee osteoarthritis who were evaluated before and after bariatric surgery. Patients lost an average of 51 pounds in one year. One year after surgery, knee pain and function improved significantly.

"For a long time people felt there was nothing they could do to mitigate the debilitating effects of knee arthritis, but now we know that surgically-assisted weight loss is a way that folks can help themselves," says Michael S. Sridhar, MD, co-investigator and resident at Emory University. "However, there is probably some element of irreparable damage from being morbidly obese that may constrain the improvement in knee pain despite significant weight loss. Looking at the actual joint surfaces with advanced imaging to assess damage is the exciting next step in studying the evolution of knee arthritis in the obese population."

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons