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Obesity and Knee Replacement Surgery

Many doctors tell overweight patients suffering from knee problems that being obese is a major contributing factor to their joint damage. This is the same information that doctors have been telling their patients for decades and should come as a surprise to nobody. However, many patients are already dealing with enough joint deterioration to need a total knee replacement procedure sooner rather than later.

weight-scale-1186277-m.jpgA recent news article from U.S. News and World Report takes a closure look at this issue. One patient interviewed for the story was 60-years-old and was in need of a total knee replacement procedure. She was retired as a schoolteacher because her severe arthritis made it virtually impossible for her to do her job. She could not walk up and down the building’s three flights of stairs any longer. She had no cartilage left her in one knee by that point. She was experiencing bone on bone friction every time she walked.

She said she was always overweight since she was child. As an adult, she spent years trying to a find a surgeon who would be willing to perform a total knee replacement while she was obese. She was told to have bariatric surgery, lose weight, and come back for another consultation. She was not willing to have bariatric surgery, due to all of the dangers she had learned about the procedure.

This creates what doctors are calling a Catch-22. Obese patients routinely put more stress on their joints than patients who are not overweight. This creates an increased frequency in the need for an artificial knee implant, but obesity also makes surgery much more of a risky undertaking. There is also a risk that if a total knee replacement operation is performed, the new artificial joint will not last as long as it supposed to last.

This particular patient was researching doctors on the Internet, to find one willing to perform the surgery, and found a surgical center that might be willing to perform her total knee replacement, and she showed up with medical history in hand “ready for a fight.”

Surprisingly, she was told they could perform the surgery. While her new doctor and others like him agree there is an increased risk of complications, there is no evidence they will be worse off than if they are left to deal with the bone on bone pain, and the risks are outweighed by potential benefits in many cases. Her doctor also did not believe her diabetes and asthma should prevent her from having a total knee replacement, as others had told her in the past.

She ultimately went ahead with the procedure in 2014, had a normal recovery from total knee replacement, and has decided to repeat the procedure in her other knee.
However, as our Boston knee replacement injury attorneys can explain, a defectively designed artificial knee joint may undo success. If you have had a total knee replacement and are told you need a second or subsequent surgery to correct a failing artificial joint, you should contact an experienced attorney to see if you have a case against the manufacturer.


Call the Boston Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Artificial Cartilage Could Protect Runners From Arthritis, Knee Replacements
, U.S. News and World Reports, April 15, 2015
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Knee Reconstruction Market to Exceed $5 Billion by 2020
, June 17, 2014, Boston Actos Injury Lawyer Blog