Bariatric Surgery Alleviates Pain and Improves Physical Function

Several patients suffering from obesity reported vast improvements in pain, physical function, and walking capacity after undergoing bariatric surgery, according to new research in JAMA.

Several patients suffering from obesity reported vast improvements in pain, physical function, and walking capacity after undergoing bariatric surgery, according to new research in JAMA.

Typically, severe obesity has been associated with intense joint pain and weakened physical function (ie, the ability to bend, lift, carry, push, and walk).

While bariatric surgery has been effective in helping patients to attain and maintain weight loss, the variability and durability of movements in pain and physical function after the procedure hadn’t previously been explored.

Wendy C. King, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, conducted a study among 10 hospitals to assess changes in pain and physical function in the first three years following bariatric surgery in severely obese patients.

Of the 2,458 participants, 2,221 completed both baseline and follow-up assessments.

Findings suggested that through three years of follow-up, nearly 50-70% of adults experienced clinically significant improvements in pain, physical function, and walking capacity.

Furthermore, about 75% of participants suffering from severe knee and hip pain or disability showed improvements in osteoarthritis symptoms.

The authors concluded, “Among a cohort of participants with severe obesity undergoing bariatric surgery, a large percentage experienced improvement, compared with baseline, in pain, physical function, and walk time over three years, but the percentage with improvement in pain and physical function decreased between years one and three.”