In a recent article in Arthritis Research and Therapy, authors noted the significant relationship between obesity, as defined by a body mass index greater than 30 and the risk of developing arthritis requiring hip and knee replacement. The authors found that increased weight, abdominal circumference and body mass index were associated with the development of osteoarthritis. A research team headed by Dr. Cicuttini of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, conducted the prospective study on 32,023 healthy volunteers to examine the relationship between different adiposity measures and the risks of subsequent primary knee and hip replacement surgery. The study determined there was a three to four fold risk of joint replacement associated with elevated body weight, BMI, fat mass, and percentage of fat. It is felt that adipose or fat mass continue to increase joint loading, which may increase the risk of osteoarthritis progression and subsequent joint replacement.

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  1. Hanafy M Hanafy, MD

    This is a great prospective study with a large cohort that adds another evidence to the relationship between obesity and weight-bearing joint deterioration. Thank you for keeping us updated.

  2. Justin Allen

    Dr. Barrett,

    Long time reader, first time “replier.” More specifically, I have been following your several reports over the past year on the links between obesity and the greater odds for joint replacement. Are there any studies, you are aware of, that compare post-surgical outcomes between obese patients (BMI >30) and “normal weight” patients?

    As a manager of several skilled nursing facilities it “seems” that we are more likely to see repeat stays from obese patients with joint replacement complications (revisions, infections, dislocations, etc.) than from those with a more standard BMI. However, we have no idea if this is more likely related to secondary diagnoses that may have caused the obesity, or other unknown reasons, than the obesity itself.

    Any thoughts? Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

  3. Dr. William Barrett

    Dear Mr. Allen,
    Thank you for your comments. There are studies showing a higher rate of complications with patients who have a BMI greater than 30. These include a high infection rate and higher medical complication rate. These have been outlines in multiple studies dealing with joint replacement surgery.
    William Barrett