Patients see improved mobility, less joint pain 3 years postop weight-loss surgery — 7 observations

Researchers found most weight-loss surgery patients experienced better mobility and less joint pain three years postop. The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Researchers studied 2,221 patients for joint and bodily pain, medication use and physical function pre- and post-surgery for three years. Most of the patients underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, while some had laparoscopic adjustable gastric band.

The findings were presented at ObesityWeek 2015 in Los Angeles, hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society.

Here are seven observations:

1. Fifty-seven percent of patients with preop mobility problems reported no mobility issues postop, and 70 percent of patients with knee or hip pain preop reported significant improvements postop.

2. Although the researchers found improvements in pain and function for many patients, one in six patients still used narcotic pain medications three years postop.

3. Twenty-six percent of the patients demonstrated mobility complications three years postop.

4. The study found those patients who were younger, male, had a higher household income, lower BMI and less depressive symptoms before surgery had better chances of showing improvement postop.

5. More weight loss and less depressive symptoms postop linked to pain and function improvements, as well.

6. Patients with histories of stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and venous edema with ulceration resulted in worse outcomes.

7. Researchers found patients with greater pain preop were likely to show greatest improvements in pain postop. However, they were less likely to see improvements in function and mobility.

"Our study found that clinically meaningful improvement in bodily pain, specific joint pain and both perceived and objectively measured physical function are common following bariatric surgery," said Wendy King, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

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