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Obesity Can Wreak Terrible Havok On The Knees



Obesity is the culprit behind a rise in knee replacement surgery, a new study from the University of Massachussetts shows. According to researchers, knee replacement in people under the age of 65 is laregly fueled by the stress that obesity places on the joints. This finding shows is yet another example of the harmful effect that obesity has on the human body.

Reserachers base their conclusions on the findings of the Function and Outcomes Research for Comparative Effectiveness in Total Joint Replacement (FORCE-TJR) study. FORCE-TJR is a federally funded study designed to collect data from 30,000 total joint replacement (TJR) patients which will be in part be used to assist in clinical care of TJR patients.

David Ayers, MD, Chair in Orthopedics, chair and professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and director of the Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence at UMass Medical School and his colleagues analyzed data from 9,000 male and female knee replacement patients whom were tracked by FORCE-TJR. Using this data, they found that 11 % of patients under the age of 65 could be considered morbidly obese compared to 5% of patients over age 65.

These are shocking statistics when you stop to consider that the data was collected from 152 orthopedic surgeons spanning 22 states. Essentially the FORCE-TJR challenges the United States to undergo a very unpleasant reality check:

  • a rising number of young people require knee replacement surgery.
  • the rise in knee replacement surgery just so happens to correlate with rising obesity rates.

This isn't to say that obesity causes people to lose knee joint functionality but the data is certainly pointing in that direction.

In fact, Dr. Ayer, in speaking about the statstics had this to say: "What we’re seeing is that the rise in obesity rates in younger people is having a dramatic influence on the number of total joint replacement surgeries."


KNEE MODEL 150px-Prothese-genou-IMG_0033

(the image "Model of total knee replacement" via wikipedia)

It's estimated that 600,000 people receive hip and knee replacements each year. While many of the patients happen to be elderly, the FORCE-TJR data reveals that a growing number of young people are candidates for the surgery.

We would be remiss if we didn't point out that obesity is also associated with arthritis. In fact, according to Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, obese adults are more likely to have arthritis than non obese adults.

Obesity can also lead to degenerative bone loss (osteoarthritis), worsen osteoarthritis pain and lower quality of life. It's also important to bear in mind that total knee replacement surgery is not without risk. In fact, health care professionals warn that arthritic patients who undergo joint replacement surgery are at increased risk for infection. Such infections could extend the patient's hospital stay by 2 weeks.

So what does all of this tell us? Put simply, the data tells us that we should be mindful of our health.

While a variety of factors contribute to obesity, the greatest cause is physical inactivity and sendentary lifestyle. If the body has less weight stress on the knee joints, it could go a long way toward saving the knees and thereby avoiding the need for joint replacement surgery.


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Article References

New UMMS data show younger adults have same or greater impairment than older patients| University of Massachussetts Medical School

Arthritis Made Worse By Rising Obesity Rates - CDC Report

Arthritis Interferes With The Physical Activities Of Millions Of Americans

Obesity Worsens Osteoarthritis Pain, Lowers Quality of Life in Older Americans

Arthritis Treatment: Deadly Infections in Joint Replacement Surgery For Arthritis


"Obesity Can Wreak Terrible Havok On The Knees" copyright © 2013 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.




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