Weight, wounds and exercise. How are they all related?

Weight, wounds and exercise.  How are they all related?

As aging baby-boomers begin to feel the aches and pains of arthritic joints, they may start to realize that their weight, their activity, and exercise regimen may impact outcomes of possible joint replacement procedures in their future.  There are several factors that influence the outcome and survivorship of joint replacement procedures.  These include the patient’s weight, activity level, and overall strength.  There have been numerous scientific articles outlying the importance of maximizing your nutritional status, decreasing your body weight, and minimizing your complications following surgery.  Arthritis can affect anyone, but, fortunately, is present only in roughly 10% of the population.  Factors that tend to accelerate the onset of arthritis include genetic predisposition, prior injury to joints or adjacent bones, and obesity. 

If your arthritis progresses to the point where surgical replacement of the joint is indicated, then there are several things you can do to increase your chances of success and decrease your risk of complication.  These include losing excess weight and maximizing your nutritional health.  One of the more common refrains I hear is that “I can’t lose weight doctor because I can’t exercise”.  A greater portion of weight loss is associated with proper diet and avoidance of excess calories than it is with exercise.  Recent articles in the New York Times have pointed out some of the potentially deleterious effects of modern diets and the use of high fructose corn syrup in many of the food items that we consume.  Review of this article may be helpful to help you better plan a healthy diet.  Losing excess weight will also decrease the risk of having wound healing complications.  The first step in recovery from a joint replacement is securing safe healing of the surgical incision.  This healing process is multifactorial and includes surgical technique and patient factors such as obesity and overall health status of the individual. 

As we enter into the final months of summer, it is important to take stock in yourself and look in the mirror and decide what it is you can do to help your overall health status, decrease your risk of arthritis, and if surgery becomes necessary, maximize your chances for a successful outcome.   
William P. Barrett, MD

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office