Greater Weight Gain Seen After Knee Replacement Surgery

RICHMOND, VA – While knee-replacement surgery often is sought so patients can return to a more active lifestyle, patients who undergo the procedure might be at greater risk of gaining weight than those who have not had the surgery.

For the five-year study published online recently by the journal Arthritis Care & Research, Daniel Riddle, PhD, of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physical Therapy collaborated with Jasvinder A. Singh, MD, of the Birmingham VAMC, as well as researchers from the Mayo Clinic.1

The research team reviewed the medical records of nearly 1,000 knee-replacement surgery patients from the Mayo Clinic Health System, finding that 30% of them gained 5% or more of their body weight in the five years following surgery.

Comparatively, only 20% of members of a control group without surgery gained equivalent amounts of weight during the same period.

“Part of the explanation is that people may have spent years adapting to their circumstances by avoiding activities that could cause knee pain,” Riddle said. “We need to encourage patients to take advantage of their ability to function better and offer strategies for weight loss or weight management.”

Preoperative weight loss was a risk factor that frequently led to weight gain following the procedure, according to the study, which noted that overweight and obese patients preparing for surgery are often encouraged to lose weight to enhance early recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

“The subsequent weight gain potentially puts patients at risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes,” Riddle noted.

Study authors suggested that “the findings potentially have broad implications to multiple members of the healthcare team.”

“Future research should develop weight loss/maintenance interventions, particularly for younger patients who have lost a substantial amount of weight prior to surgery, as they are most at risk for substantial postsurgical weight gain,” the authors concluded.

1.Riddle DL, Singh JA, Harmsen WS, Schleck CD, Lewallen DG. Clinically important body weight gain following knee arthroplasty: A five-year comparative cohort study. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2012 Nov 30. doi: 10.1002/acr.21880. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23203539.

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