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Weight loss programme easing joint pain

Monday 6 June 2016 8:51am


A programme to help obese hip and knee patients lose weight before surgery has led to some of them avoiding surgery all together, better post-surgical outcomes, and improvements in people’s overall health.

Patients taking part in the Early Dietetic Intervention (EDI) programme have regular sessions with a dietician before and after surgery, and set individuals weight loss goals.

The programme was developed by the Canterbury District Health Board’s orthopaedic unit in partnership with University of Otago, Christchurch, surgeon Professor Gary Hooper. Dietician Emma Lloyd was also hired specifically for the programme.

Obese patients have more post-surgical problems.

gary hooper small image
Surgeon Professor Gary Hooper.

The dedicated effort was sparked by the growing numbers of morbidly obese and obese patients referred for hip and knee surgery. Extra weight not only puts more pressure on joints, but post-surgical infections are also more common.

Since the programme’s introduction in 2008, more than 900 patients have taken part, and a study by Professor Hooper has found it helped patients achieve significant weight loss, translating into better joint function and less need for surgery.

6300kgs lost overall, many health benefits.

A year after their surgery, 70 per cent of the patients achieved or maintained their weight loss goal. Combined, they lost more than 6300 kilograms, while almost 10% of patients avoided surgery because of their weight loss. Participants also had fewer symptoms of diabetes, arthritis and hypertension.

Professor Hooper says dietician Emma Lloyd is to be congratulated on the programme’s results.

"Other studies looking at weight loss prior to surgery show poor results with an inability to maintain weight loss. I believe this programme's structure, with an emphasis on family and peer support, has made the difference. Emma Lloyd has been able to engage these patients and they have responded by achieving these impressive results. Not only have a considerable number of patients avoided major surgery, but many have improved their general physical well-being so that surgery could be performed with fewer risks."