According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than one-third of all adults in the U.S. are obese, accounting for a very large percentage of the nation’s healthcare spending.
Obesity is a serious condition often triggering a host of medical conditions, but not often mentioned are the many orthopedic implications including chronic back, knee, and hip pain, as well as arthritis.
Dr. Bergin notes that many of her patients experiencing bone or joint pain, or early symptoms of arthritis, are also overweight. “When I see 45 year olds with degenerative joint disease and no history of injury or connective tissue disorder, I must draw the conclusion that their weight has had a causative effect on this process.”
Excess body weight typical of someone who is obese can lead to painful pressure on the joints and even broken bones.
Because surgical options are also limited, the real challenge Dr. Bergin says is getting a patient to lose weight. With obesity being such a sensitive issue though, doctors are often met with denial or resistance when they suggest weight loss as treatment.
For some patients, proper diet and exercise can make a great difference in the pain they are experiencing. For others, where weight loss has proven ineffective, she urges doctors to simply offer their heartfelt patience and support.
You can read more of Dr. Bergin’s interview at Becker’s Spine Review.
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