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A New Understanding Of Osteoarthritis

Female Doctor hand on patient and talking to an older male patient with a mask on in a blue button down shirt

Obese patients are often told by their doctors that the extra weight they carry can contribute to osteoarthritis – a degenerative form of arthritis often caused by wear and tear on the joints. Decades ago, it was mostly middle to older age adults that experienced osteoarthritis, but the average age of onset has declined as the obesity epidemic has gotten worse. Figure that an extra pound of body weight puts an additional 4 pounds of pressure on the knee joint. Being that we use our knees throughout most of the day, it is no wonder that the cartilage in the knee would start to break down if one were dozens or even hundreds of pounds overweight.

However, more recent research has shown that it is not just physical wear and tear on the joints that causes this degeneration. In fact, adipose tissue also known as white fat – the stuff that accumulates around our abdomens to create the “spare tire,” – releases toxic hormones that can attack our joints and hasten the onset of osteoarthritis. These two mechanisms, working together, break down the joint more quickly and can lead to pain and disability at a relatively young age.

Unfortunately, unlike some other obesity related diseases and conditions, osteoarthritis is not reversible. Once it gets bad, it remains bad. However, we have some control over how bad it actually gets and how quickly it gets worse. Patients who proactively work to lower their BMI, whether through diet and exercise, or through weight loss surgery, are saving themselves a lifetime of pain and disability that may eventually need to be corrected through surgical means in the form of arthroscopic surgery or total joint replacement.

What to Do?

Diet and exercise, of course, is the ideal way to lose weight, but unfortunately it is unsuccessful in about 90% of patients. Weight loss medications may also offer significant near-term weight loss but may lose effectiveness over time and may come with unacceptable side effects. Bariatric surgery on the other hand is the only long-term proven solution for obesity and its related diseases. While surgery may seem like a drastic step, the alternative – a life of disease and possible disability is certainly not a better option. Not only does bariatric surgery allow for effective long-term weight loss, but it is incredibly effective in improving or resolving many of the diseases associated with morbid obesity including type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Contact us to learn more about how bariatric surgery is safer and more effective than ever before in its history.

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