Drop 20 Pounds for Good TKA Recovery

Scheduled for knee surgery?  Dropping some weight prior to going under the knife may improve your recovery and reduce the risk of a lengthy hospital stay or being sent to another facility after discharge.  According to a recent study, losing at least 20 pounds significantly reduced the likelihood of obese patients having a lengthened hospital stay or being sent to a rehabilitation facility after a total knee replacement. 

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center study, recently published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, reviewed data on 203 morbidly obese patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty (TKA).  This group of patients represents 13.5 percent of the total 1,500 patients who had knee replacement surgery at one hospital between 2011 and 2016.   Patients who only lost between 5 and 10 pounds before surgery did not have shorter hospital stays. 

The study is of importance because many doctors tell obese patients to lose 40, 50, 75 or even 100 pounds before they can be evaluated for hip or knee replacements.  But when mobility is limited due to joint pain, losing that much weight can be difficult with only dietary changes.  By dropping just 20 pounds, this newer study has found that obese patients can improve their recovery outcomes and experience pain relief that may eventually lead to a more active lifestyle which can help patients shed weight and experience a better quality of life. 

Knee replacement surgery is commonly done to relieve severe pain caused by osteoarthritis.  People who need TKA usually have mobility problems including difficulty walking, climbing stairs and getting up and down from a seated position.   Most knee replacements can last 15 years or more and recovery will include physical therapy and a slow return to normal daily activities. 

According to recent data, more than a third of American adults are obese.  Obesity increases the risk for knee osteoarthritis and according to Physician’s Weekly, obese patients represent at least half of all patients who undergo a total knee replacement.  Learn more about what defines adults obesity by following this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.