Close to 800,000 people in the United States will have a joint replaced this year. Osteoarthritis is the main—but not the only—reason. Joint replacements have become so common that most massage therapists can expect to see clients who are in various stages of recovery from this procedure. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s risk-free, and a person who has had a joint repaired has a significant chance of complications that impact bodywork choices in both the near and long-term.
Arthritis is an insidious disease, eating its way into the joints of nearly 70 million Americans, or nearly one out of every three U.S. adults. It is considered one of our most prevalent chronic health problems, costing the economy more than $124 billion in healthcare and lost wages each year.1 One of the more unnerving aspects of this disease is the fact its prevalence has nearly doubled in the past two decades,2 adding 23 million more to its “hit list” in the past seven years alone.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology reported overweight persons have a six-times higher chance of developing arthritis in their knees than those with a normal body mass index (BMI), and the clinically obese are eight times more likely to develop arthritis. Researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany found the connection between obesity and osteoarthritis to be the result of the strain of excessive body weight upon the knees through mechanical actions rather than a metabolic link.