When you visit your primary care doctor or specialist, chances are good that the topic of your weight will be a part of the discussion. Maintaining a healthy body weight through a nutritious and balanced diet and a reasonable fitness regimen has protective effects against many health problems. Being overweight or obese is linked to many chronic health problems, and these conditions affect every organ in the body. Your body’s joints can be under serious stress if you’re overweight or obese. It’s important to know exactly how extra weight affects your body’s joints so that you can make informed and proactive decisions about your health.
Definitions of Overweight and Obese
A person who is overweight has a body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 to 29.9. A BMI greater than 30 is obese. Another way to define overweight or obesity is by the amount of extra weight over your ideal body weight range. A person who weighs 20% to 39% more than their ideal body weight is mildly obese, and a person who is 40% to 99% more than their ideal body weight is moderately obese. An individual who is 100% or more over their ideal body weight is considered morbidly obese.
People of any age who are overweight can develop chronic pain in their musculoskeletal systems. In the November 2014 issue of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, researchers explained that adolescents who are obese experience more chronic pain in certain regions of their bodies compared to their peers who are of a normal weight. In elderly people, those who are obese have double the risk of soft tissue and joint pain. Pain is notoriously difficult to manage, and people dealing with chronic pain have a decreased quality of life.
Increased Risk of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease caused by too much wear and tear. It’s a progressive condition that gets worse with time. For each additional pound you weigh, there is another four pounds of pressure on your knees, ankles and hips. The extra weight increases the wear and tear on these joints. The knee is the most-affected joint when it comes to obesity and arthritis. The excess biomechanical load put on the knee hastens the usual wear and tear that people experience as they get older. Once the cartilage wears out, you’ll be looking at a joint replacement surgery. This is a major operation. Losing just 10% of your body weight could lower your risk of developing osteoarthritis in joints that aren’t yet affected by the condition.
Higher Risk of Musculoskeletal Injuries
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of experiencing an injury to your soft tissues or bones. People who are overweight have a 15% higher risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury. Those who are obese are 48% more likely to experience an injury to a bone or joint. These increased risks are consistent across all age groups, including children.
People who are overweight or obese have a longer recovery time and higher risk of complications after all types of surgeries. In overweight and obese people, bones take longer to heal after a fracture. Soft tissue healing is also slower. Although being overweight or obese doesn’t preclude someone from having orthopedic surgery, many surgeons recommend pre-surgical weight loss in order to facilitate a better surgical outcome.
At OrthoNOW, we’re committed to providing you with the information you need in order to make informed decisions about your health. We’re here to support you in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Our orthopedic specialists are ready to help you lower the risk of orthopedic injuries so that you can have a better quality of life.
Our OrthoNOW Rehabilitation Center provides a private outpatient clinical setting for physical and occupational therapy where quality of care and patient satisfaction are our primary goals. Call (305) 537-7275 to make an appointment.