Pain and Disability Reduced After Bariatric Surgery
Synopsis: Study reveals clinically meaningful improvements in bodily pain, specific joint pain and physical function are common following bariatric surgery.(1)
Author: University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health(2)
Published: 2016-04-06 Updated: 2020-02-06
In particular, walking is easier, which impacts patients' ability to adopt a more physically active lifestyle.
This data can help patients and clinicians develop realistic expectations regarding the impact of bariatric surgery on pain and disability.
In the three years following bariatric surgery, the majority of patients experienced an improvement in pain and walking ability, as well as a lessening of the degree to which back or leg pain interfered with work, according a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led analysis of a multi-site clinical study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Bariatric surgery includes a variety of procedures performed on people who have obesity. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through removal of a portion of the stomach (sleeve gastrectomy or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch) or by resecting and re-routing the small intestine to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass surgery). The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends bariatric surgery for obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, and for people with BMI 35 and serious co-existing medical conditions such as diabetes.
The study also revealed patient characteristics that indicate who is the most and least likely to experience improvements in pain and function, a finding that could allow clinicians to identify patients who may require additional interventions to improve outcomes. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
"Our study found that clinically meaningful improvements in bodily pain, specific joint pain and physical function are common following bariatric surgery. In particular, walking is easier, which impacts patients' ability to adopt a more physically active lifestyle. However, some patients continue to have significant pain and disability," said lead author Wendy King, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. "This data can help patients and clinicians develop realistic expectations regarding the impact of bariatric surgery on pain and disability."
Dr. King and her colleagues followed 2,221 patients participating in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery-2 , a prospective study of patients undergoing weight-loss surgery at one of 10 hospitals across the U.S. After three years, patients weighed, on average, 28 percent less than prior to surgery. The majority of the patients received Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a surgical procedure that significantly reduces the size of the stomach and changes connections with the small intestine.
Through three years of follow-up, 50 to 70 percent of adults with severe obesity who underwent bariatric surgery reported clinically important improvements in bodily pain, physical function and usual walking speed. About three-quarters of the participants with symptoms indicative of osteoarthritis before surgery experienced improvements in knee and hip pain and function. In addition, over half of participants who had a mobility deficit prior to surgery did not post-surgery.
Older age, lower income, more depressive symptoms and pre-existing medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes before surgery, were among the factors independently associated with a lower likelihood of improvement in pain and mobility post-surgery, while greater weight loss, greater reduction in depressive symptoms, and remission or improvement in several medical conditions were associated with greater likelihood of improvement.
In the first year following bariatric surgery:
- 3.7 percent of patients had hip, knee or ankle surgery.
- in the second year, 4.9 percent had such surgeries followed by another 4.6 percent in the third year.
The majority were knee surgeries. The incidence of back surgeries ranged from 1.5 percent in the first year to 2.3 percent in the third year.
Three years post-surgery:
- 76.3 percent of patients reported that their leg and back pain interfered with their work "not at all," up from 54.1 percent pre-surgery.
- Also, the average physical function score of the participants, which is based on ability to walk various distances, climb stairs, perform vigorous and moderate activities, lift and carry groceries, bathe, dress, bend and kneel, improved to the point that it was comparable to that of the general U.S. population.
- Resting heart rate also improved.
"Functional status is an extremely important aspect of health that has not been as well-studied as other conditions that change following bariatric surgery, and this study sheds light on specific factors that may affect improvements in individuals with joint pain who undergo these procedures," said study co-author Anita Courcoulas, M.D., M.P.H., chief of minimally invasive bariatric and general surgery in Pitt's School of Medicine.
Additional investigators on this research:
Jia-Yuh Chen, M.S., and Steven H. Belle, Ph.D., both of Pitt; Gregory F. Dakin, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medical College; Katherine A. Elder, Ph.D., of Pacific University and Oregon Health & Science University; David R. Flum, M.D., M.P.H., and Marcelo W. Hinojosa, M.D., both of the University of Washington; James E. Mitchell, M.D., of the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute; Walter J. Pories, M.D., of East Carolina University; Bruce M. Wolfe, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University; and Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., of the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK).
This clinical study was a cooperative agreement funded by the NIDDK. Grant numbers: DCC -U01 DK066557; Columbia - U01-DK66667 (in collaboration with Cornell University Medical Center CTRC, Grant UL1-RR024996); University of Washington - U01-DK66568 (in collaboration with CTRC, Grant M01RR-00037); Neuropsychiatric Research Institute - U01-DK66471; East Carolina University - U01-DK66526; UPMC - U01-DK66585 (in collaboration with CTRC, Grant UL1-RR024153); and Oregon Health & Science University - U01-DK66555.
- Gastric Bypass Surgery General Overview - Gastric bypass surgery includes both true bypass operations such as the Roux-En-Y and popular forms of weight loss surgery such as gastric banding.
- Gastric Bypass Surgery in Obese Patients - Study examines outcomes of gastric bypass surgery in morbidly obese and super-obese patients.
(2)Source/Reference: University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.
- 1: Over 50% of Patients Opt Out of Bariatric Surgery : American College of Surgeons (2014/11/03)
- 2: Discussing Surgery: Patients Prefer iPads to Doctors : European Association of Urology (2016/03/14)
- 3: Pain and Disability Reduced After Bariatric Surgery : University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (2016/04/06)
- 4: Gallbladder Removal Surgery Operation : University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (2014/12/27)
- 5: Targeted Muscle Reinnervation Shown to Reduce Amputee Pain and Phantom Limb Sensations : Gregory Dumanian, MD (2018/11/08)
- 6: Can You Wake Up During General Anesthesia Surgery or Operation : Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2011/01/21)
- 7: Memory Loss after Surgery and Anesthesia : University of Toronto (2014/11/05)
• Disabled World is strictly a news and information website provided for general informational purpose only and does not constitute medical advice. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.