Orthopedic surgeons often recommend that obese patients lose some weight before undergoing hip replacement. To understand why, let’s look at how excess weight affects your hip joint before, during, and after a hip replacement.
How weight affects you hip joint
Weight is one of the biggest contributing factors to osteoarthritis. The force of your weight acting on your hip joint increases exponentially when you are moving. If you are 10 pounds overweight, that’s 60 pounds of extra pressure on your hip with every step you take. Once osteoarthritis begins, wear and tear in the joint is accelerated until the cartilage at the ends of the bone gets worn down resulting in bone-on-bone arthritis.
How weight affects the hip replacement procedure
- Finding veins to administer intravenous anesthesia will be difficult.
- Breathing is negatively affected.
- Difficult to visualize and access the joint.
- More blood loss.
- Longer procedure time.
- Longer time spent under anesthesia increases risk of anesthetic complications.
How weight affects post-op recovery
- More time in the hospital following hip replacement.
- Increased risk of complications such as formation of blood clots as well as heart and lung problems.
- The excess weight will make it difficult to perform the physical therapy rehabilitation exercises to improve joint function and range of motion.
- The chances of your new hip wearing out or breaking down are higher.
How do you lose weight when you have reduced hip mobility and chronic hip pain?
Dieting is the most important part of a healthy weight loss program. At every meal try to fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables and the rest of your plate should be filled with good quality protein-rich foods and whole grains. You can also have a glass of milk or a cup of yogurt which will help strengthen your bones. Avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible.
There are still low-impact exercises that you can do.
- Water Aerobics: Performing exercises in a pool will take the weight of your joints while improving cardiovascular fitness and burn a lot of calories in process.
- Swimming: Another great water therapy to lose weight while protecting your joints. Slowly increase the number of laps you swim in a pool every day to lose more weight.
- Recumbent bike: Compared to an upright bike, a recumbent bike has more stability and a wider seat which is set parallel to the pedals. These factors take the stress off the hip joint helping you exercise without aggravating your hip pain.
- Walking: Walking is a safe low-impact activity that you can perform to lose weight. Depending on your fitness level, you can set a goal of 30-60 minutes of walking per day. It does not have to be all at once, you can break your routine into three or four 15-minute sessions throughout the day.
Following these tips will help you reach your target weight and give you the confidence of knowing you are well prepared for your upcoming hip replacement.
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.