Maintaining a Healthy Weight Post Knee Surgery

group on elliptical machines

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important aspect of maintaining the health of your body in general, but also can be a tremendous help to your bones and joints. Even if you’ve had a successful knee surgery, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to ensuring you get best results in the long term.

Concerned About Pre-Surgery Weight?

The patient’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) over height (in meters squared). A BMI of 30 or greater is classified as obese. This category represents a higher level of risk for potential post-operative complications related to weight. For example, high blood pressure, infection, and cardiac events are more likely. A BMI of 35 or greater magnifies these risks, and a BMI over 40 will generally impede surgery until some weight is lost.

Why Does Weight Matter?

According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, your knee endures a level of force equivalent to 3 to 6 times your body weight when you walk. That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 pounds for most people. Thus, for every 10 pounds of additional body weight, the hip and knee joints see between 30 to 60 pounds per step.

  • Excess weight can cause your native knee cartilage to wear out faster;
  • Excess weight can cause a new artificial knee to deteriorate faster than it would otherwise;
  • Excess weight means you are more likely to require a replacement for your other knee;
  • Excess weight can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis within other joints.

Although going into surgery at a healthy weight is ideal, maintaining a healthy weight after the surgery is critical. Knee surgery patients can face weight loss challenges after their procedure, because surgery can limit their activity levels for several months. Thus, getting a jump start on weight loss before the surgery is critical to ensure a safe and successful result afterwards.

Low-Impact Exercise is Crucial to Fending off Weight Gain

Reassess your fitness plan and expect to ease off high-impact activities like running. Instead, focus on activities that don’t stress the joints such as walking, swimming, biking, elliptical machine, and golfing.

A diet rich in nutritious, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables will help you achieve your goals more easily. Many vegetables have high fiber content, so you feel satisfied with a smaller portion. Simply cutting out one sweet snack or sugary drink per day can make a big difference. Alcohol can also be calorie-rich and may slow the metabolism and lead to fat storage.

The first step to maintaining long-term health after surgery is to ensure you get help from a true expert. Dr. Lee Rubin is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. His surgical practice is entirely focused on the care of hip and knee disorders, including joint preservation techniques, partial and total joint replacements, revisions, and peri-prosthetic fractures, failures, and infections. If you are suffering from knee pain, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rubin today to learn more about your best treatment options.

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