Prevention is good medicine. One of the biggest preventive measures you can take is maintaining a healthy weight. Carrying excess pounds can contribute to numerous health problems — orthopedic issues included. That’s why we’re joining medical professionals around the country in recognizing Healthy Weight Week.
The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found four major ways that weight interferes with orthopedic health.
1. Chronic and Musculoskeletal Pain
Adolescent and elderly populations report increased orthopedic issues when overweight. The former group tends to experience musculoskeletal and chronic regional pain, and the latter experiences double the risk of chronic pain in soft tissues and joints.
2. Increased Chance of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a progressive wear-and-tear joint disease. Excess weight can increase that progression, making the condition’s onset earlier or more severe. Losing as little as 10% of your total body weight can reduce joint pain and the risk of developing arthritis.
3. Higher Rate of Musculoskeletal Injury
Beyond increased joint wear-and-tear risks, carrying extra weight also makes injury more likely. Alarmingly, someone who is overweight is 15% more likely to sustain musculoskeletal injury. Those who are obese are 48% more likely to suffer orthopedic injuries.
4. Slower Surgical Recovery and Increased Surgical Complication Risk
Patients who are obese risk possible complications that could compromise their surgical outcomes.
Take the First Step to a Healthier Weight. Walk it Off.
Talking about healthy weight is easy. Making it happen can be hard. That’s why Beacon’s Dr. Michael Swank encourages everyone to just walk. Put simply: a walk a day keeps the orthopedic doctor away. He believes in this philosophy so strongly, that he trademarked Walk30 — initially as a protocol for getting patients to start walking after surgery but has since expanded it for anyone looking to live healthier.
Joint replacement is Swank’s specialty, but his passion is to get people to alter their lifestyle and re-engage in their life:
“When you lose your ability to walk — a fundamental human function — you lose a lot of your independence, your self-esteem, and your engagement with other people and the environment. Everything people do outside of when they see me is equally or more important than what I do. The goal is to try to keep people away from me and engage them with their bodies,” Swank says.
In the spirit of Healthy Weight Week and throughout the year, let’s walk it off for healthier weights and healthier joints to reduce the risk of orthopedic complications in the future.