The Link Between Orthopaedics and Weight Management

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Obesity in Singapore has been on the rise in recent years. In addition, obesity has been linked to exacerbating many orthopaedic problems. This article describes and explains how excess weight leads to orthopaedic conditions, the importance of weight management, and when medical intervention is necessary.

How Does Excess Weight Impact Our Joints?

The impact of excess weight on joints involves abnormal changes in walking patterns (gait) and inreased stress and strain on one’s cartilage and other components of the joint.

Orthopaedic Conditions Related to Excess Weight


Excess weight is associated with osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disorder characterised by the breakdown of protective cartilage. The heightened load on weight-bearing joints, particularly the knees and hips, accelerates the wear and tear of this crucial cushioning. Consequently, excess weight emerges as a risk factor for the early onset and advancement of osteoarthritis.

Joint Pain and Inflammation

Excess weight results in increased stress and pressure on joints, often leading to joint pain and inflammation. This is a direct outcome of the body managing the added stress caused by excess weight, particularly noticeable in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.

Other Conditions

While the connection between excess weight and joint issues is evident, other orthopaedic conditions might not be as immediately noticeable. Additionally, carrying extra weight can strain the spine, causing back pain. Lumbar spine issues, including herniated discs, are more prevalent in individuals with excess weight.

Risk of Sports Injuries and Fractures

Weight-bearing joints like knees and ankles are more prone to sprains and strains during physical activities. Beyond sports, excess weight consistently stresses bones, affecting density and integrity. This elevates the risk of fractures, particularly in weight-bearing bones such as hips and spine.

Benefits of Weight Management on the Joints

  • Reduced joint pain and inflammation: Maintaining a healthy weight can alleviate stress on joints, leading to decreased pain and inflammation.
  • Improved mobility and quality of life: Weight management contributes to enhanced mobility, fostering an overall improvement in the quality of life for individuals.
  • Slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis: A sustained 5 to 7kg weight loss in obese young people can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.
  • Enhanced surgical outcomes in orthopaedic procedures: Weight loss can improve obesity-related comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Lifestyle Management

Nutrition and Diet for Joint Health

Incorporating diverse nutrients from various food groups is key to maintaining overall health. Meal planning and portion control play a pivotal role in weight loss diets, contributing to a caloric deficit. To reduce inflammation and improve joint health, adopt a diet rich in the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables with deep color, such as berries, leafy greens, and carrots.
  • Lean protein, including chicken breast, tofu, and egg whites.
  • Low-fat dairy products such as skim or fat-free milk.
  • Omega-3 sources like fatty fish and seeds.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is crucial for weight management, promoting joint health and overall well-being by burning calories and boosting metabolism.

  • Low-impact exercises offer cardiovascular benefits without straining joints.
  • Strength training senhances joint stability and protects joints by building muscle mass.
  • Setting fitness goals provides structure for effective weight management.

Combining these elements in a comprehensive approach supports joint health and contributes to overall well-being.

Consultation with Orthopaedic Specialists

Engaging with orthopedic specialists such as Dr Yung Shing Wai is essential to managing the health of one’s bones and joints, especially when addressing weight-related causes. An orthopaedic specialist will also be able to collaborate with a diverse network of medical professionals to provide all-rounded care.

Surgical Treatment for Severe Cases

In cases of severe joint issues and obesity, doctors may recommend surgery. One option is bariatric surgery, a procedure aimed at helping eligible patients lose weight more effectively. This involves altering the size of the stomach, and is coupled with a balanced diet and exercise regime. While generally safe, there is a potential for postoperative complications that will need to be addressed and kept to a minimum.

An alternative for extensive joint damage is joint replacement surgery. This involves substituting a damaged joint with an artificial part, offering pain relief and restoring functionality.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your case.

Prioritising weight management is pivotal for overall well-being, particularly in preserving joint health and a reduced risk of chronic conditions. Embracing a lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and professional guidance not only contributes to healthy weight control but also lays the foundation for long-term joint health and quality of life.


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Dr Yung Shing Wai, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon: With his decades of specialist experience, Dr Yung is committed to providing not only high-quality, personalized and modern orthopaedic treatments; he also shares his knowledge by reviewing and contributing informative articles to provide patients with trustworthy and up-to-date orthopaedic insights.

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