Those who have experienced joint pain will know how traumatic it is and how joint pain can take complete control of one’s life. From long-distance travel to basic movement, one’s lifestyle is severely compromised due to joint ache.
One of the most common causes of joint ache is Obesity.
Excess weight is a strain upon the joints. It is estimated that every kilo of excess weight exerts an additional 4 kilo of pressure on the knees. A potent cause for Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of Arthritis, is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, which is the tissue that covers the end of bones at joints. The greater the weight that is exerted on the joints, the greater the likelihood of wear and tear of cartilage. The weight bearing joints like hips and knees are at a greater risk.
The problem of cartilage damage arises not just because of the excess weight associated with Obesity. The excess fat stored in the body is also a cause of the problem as fat tissues release chemicals that promote inflammation. One group of chemicals released by fat tissues, known as cytoklines, can also impact the cardiovascular system.
Gout is another form of inflammatory arthritis that is linked with obesity. Gout is caused by the building up of uric acid in the joints that lead to attacks of pain. An obese person is at greater risk of suffering from gout as his/her kidneys are unable to eliminate the uric acid that is formed in their body from the processing of certain foods.
Another form of arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis, where the body’s immune system attacks its joint tissues, leading to joint erosion and pain. Psoriatic Arthritis is a form of arthritis where the body’s autoimmune system causes skin inflammation.
Obesity increases the risk of all these forms of arthritis as well.
Particularly for those who might spend a large number of hours standing – either in the kitchen or at the workplace, trying to lose weight by walking or jogging, those who have been playing high-impact sports like tennis and badminton – every bit of excess weight is causing an additional strain on the knee joints.
Weight-loss, even if marginal, can greatly reduce the risk of these forms of arthritis. For primarily with weight control, the stress on the joints is substantially reduced.
Bariatric Surgery is a safe alternative for weight loss – particularly for those who are severely obese and have not been able to lose weight through other methods.
A highly reputed international study from 2015 and our experience with our patients observe that after substantial weight loss from bariatric surgery, Rheumatoid arthritis patients had much lower disease activity, decreased joint inflammation, and negligible medication use.
Similarly patients with knee arthritis show significant pain relief after Bariatric surgery.
A Penn State University study observes that when obese patients present with arthritis, Doctors typically treat the arthritis but not the underlying disease. We (study team) believe that rectifying this approach can play a meaningful role in joint health in the years ahead, while at the same time improving the overall health of the patient and potentially saving money in the future.