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Knee Pain Cured By Gastric Bypass Surgery

Update Date: Mar 14, 2014 07:59 PM EDT

Gastric bypass surgery could cure knee pain in obese patients, according to a new study.

Previous studies show that having a higher body mass index can increase the risk of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA), and gastric bypass surgery effectively reduces weight in obese patients.

However, the latest study shows that patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, which seal up a big portion of the stomach and causes food to bypass a portion of the small intestine, can help with knee pain related to excess weight.

The study involved two groups of patients: 20 of the participants had undergone gastric bypass surgery and 40 participants underwent total knee replacement for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. The participants were on average 52 years old and had a mean pre-operative Body Mass Index of 45.6 kg/m².

Researchers said the participants were matched two-to-one by age, gender and Body Mass Index. The study assessed knee symptoms before surgery, six months after surgery and a year after surgery.

The study revealed that bariatric surgery patients reported significant improvement in mean knee pain and physical function at one-year follow up. The study also found that the improvement in mean pain scores was similar between patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery and those who underwent total knee replacement.

However, the gastric bypass groups felt less pain sooner. Researchers said that those who underwent the weight loss surgery experienced a significantly greater percentage improvement in physical function at six months compared to those who underwent total knee replacement. However, both groups experienced similar pain levels one year after their procedures.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that doctors recommend bariatric consultation for obese patients who have knee symptoms but lack advanced osteoarthritis or other similar conditions.

The findings from the new study, "The Impact of Gastric Bypass Surgery Compared to Total Knee Arthroplasty on Knee Symptoms," were presented today at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

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