The number of people who will need knee replacements is likely to “go through the roof” if rising obesity levels are not tackled, a surgeon has said.
Ronan Banim, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Nuffield Health Chester Hospital, said the growing number of overweight people is having an impact on many parts of the health service.
Mr Banim said colleagues are coming across patients with knees that are “literally being crushed” because of the excess weight they have to support.
Osteoarthritis is a real risk in the longer term for these patients because of the pressure being placed on the knee joints.
The scale of the problem was highlighted in a survey of 1,600 people aged 16 to 65 by the healthcare charity Nuffield Health.
It found that 28% of UK workers say they have painful knees, with a quarter saying they had endured the pain for up to two years.
For those aged over 55 the problem was more acute, with a tenth saying they are in pain all the time.
Mr Banim said weight control, healthy eating and regular, careful exercise are extremely important for patients to reduce the impact of weight on their knees.
Although the condition is not life-threatening, it has a severe impact on quality of life if steps to treat it are not taken, Mr Banim said.
He said patients should seek early treatment and added that in some cases, encouraging a patient to consider losing a small amount of weight might help rule out the need for them to face an operation in future.