21/11/2012 11:32 GMT

Rise In Knee Pain Linked To Obesity, Suggests Surgeon

Rising levels of obesity are leading to an increase in the number of people suffering from knee pain, a surgeon said.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ronan Banim said that surgeons are seeing knees that are "literally being crushed" by excess weight.

He warned that if the levels of obesity continue to increase, the number of people who need knee replacements is likely to "go through the roof".

He made his comments after new research suggests that 28% of UK workers are suffering from painful knees.

And almost a quarter of 1,600 people aged 16 to 65 surveyed said they have been living with pain for up to two years.

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Those over the age of 55 suffer the most, with one in ten questioned by healthcare charity Nuffield Health claiming they are in constant pain.

Mr Banim, who works at Nuffield Health Chester Hospital, said: "If levels of obesity continue to rise the number of people needing knee replacements is likely go through the roof.

"In clinics we are seeing knees that are literally being crushed by excess weight. This puts pressure on joints and can increase the long-term risk of osteoarthritis.

"Weight control, regular, careful, exercise and healthy eating are extremely important. Although knee pain may not life threatening, if left untreated it can seriously impact on quality of life. Patients should seek early treatment and, where necessary, consider losing just a small amount of weight as this could rule out the need for future surgery."

Dr Sarah Dauncey, medical director at Nuffield Health, added: "To minimise the potential risks of getting knee pain, people who are becoming more active should look at pre and post activity warm-ups and downs, wearing good trainers and supporting the joint when exercising."

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Professor Alan Silman, medical director at Arthritis Research UK, said: "We've known for a long time that obesity is major risk factor for developing osteoarthritis, and our research has shown that very overweight people are a staggering 14 times more likely to get osteoarthritis of the knee than those in a healthy weight range.

"The rise in obesity and the resulting increase in the number of people suffering from osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee, is a major worry, and people need to be aware of the risks to their health and quality of life that obesity can cause.

"However, research shows that losing weight, however modest, when combined with exercise, is a panacea at every stage.

"Achieving a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing the disease in the first place, relieves existing symptoms and helps to prevent further deterioration.

"Joint replacements are more likely to fail earlier in obese patients, and the heavier the patient the less likely it is that surgery will bring about an improvement in symptoms."