A very common side effect of obesity and excess weight is joint pain as a result of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is broadly defined as age-related wear and tear on our joints – the breaking down of the fragile cartilage that separates our bones in the joints throughout our body. This cartilage acts as a protective shield or cushion, so that the bones do not rub against each other. While this disease is a common occurrence in those of advanced age, the added strain that excess weight puts on this cartilage often causes it to compress or break down entirely much sooner. The result is bone on bone rubbing and a significant amount of pain and stiffness. Many candidates that qualify for bariatric surgery will likely feel the effects, mild or severe, of osteoarthritis. Depending on their individual circumstances, including age and weight, these effects may even be debilitating.
As the patient begins to lose a significant amount of weight after bariatric surgery, the effects of osteoarthritis are reduced, since destructive pressure on the joints is relieved. Patients may be able to return to many of the activities they haven’t been able to perform in years because the pain is finally gone. However, it is imperative that osteoarthritis symptoms are treated quickly. The greater the degree of cartilage compression and degradation, the worse and more permanent the long-term effects will be.
Ultimately, no matter how much weight is lost, if osteoarthritis is allowed to progress to its very worst, surgery, including joint replacement, can often be the only option.
If you’re experiencing osteoarthritis as a result of excess weight or obesity, we encourage you to consider a comprehensive weight loss program or weight loss surgery. Learning more about these two options may unlock a long-term solution to the pain and limited mobility that comes with weight related osteoarthritis.