• JUL 19

    The Effects of Obesity on the Body


    Most people may not know but being overweight, or considered obese, is a very serious medical issue. Being overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obese being defined as a BMI of 30 or greater, when comparing weight to height. Obesity is a comorbidity that can increase risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory issues – breathing problems, and even premature mortality- death; just to name a few on a long list. The extra pounds on the body can also wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system. Being overweight can increase pain at different joints, increased risk of stress fractures, increased inflammation, and increased risk of osteoarthritis. The International Journal of Obesity published an article highlighting the high correlation between obesity and musculoskeletal issues.

    Once someone has been in pain for so long or now those physical changes are negatviely influencing life function, they may consider surgery. There are always potential risks associated with surgery, however, these risks are greater for those patients that are overweight when compared to those of a healthy weight.

    During Surgery:

    • Anesthesia – more difficult to safely administer
    • Locating veins for general anesthesia, as well as necessary medications
    • Insufficient oxygen and airflow monitoring due to Obstructive Sleep • Apnea
    • Difficulty delivering spinal and epidural nerve blocks due to positioning
    • Operative Times – longer than normal, secondary to technical
    challenges, which can also greater your risk of complications during surgery; A longer time to regain consciousness following your procedure

    After Surgery:

    • Infection
    • Increased blood loss
    • Poor Wound Healing
    • Heart Attack
    • Difficulty Breathing
    • UTI
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Blood Clots
    • Pulmonary Embolism (PE) or Blood Clot in the Lungs

    Lesser outcomes after joint replacements, meniscal and ligament repairs, as well as other surgical interventions, can significantly improve your quality of life by reducing your overall pain and discomfort, and bring you back to an active lifestyle. However, with obesity you may never reach your optimal level of functioning, gain full mobility, or reduce your pain completely from the increased impact on your joints and decreased overall healing time. In some cases, a secondary “revision” surgery may be necessary.

    Research finds that for every pound lost, the impact to the joints are reduced by 4 times the load. Diet and exercise are the typically prescribed method of decreasing body mass. A consistent exercise regimen can help improve pain symptoms, improve quality of life, and have a positive effect of other symptoms of the body. The key word being consistent; an infrequent or sporadic program can actually increase pain and negative symptoms. Finding the right activities that keep motivation high is an important part of the process. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends from “that adults spend 150 minutes each week in moderate intensity activity to maintain and improve health outcomes, but the amount of time committed to exercise must be increased if the individual wants to prevent weight gain (150–250 minutes/week) or lose a clinically significant amount of weight (225–420 minutes/week).”

    So, find what motivates you and get started. Start slow and make short term goals to help you keep focused and motivated. Baby steps can lead to giant leaps over time.

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