Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis and the chance of needing joint replacement arthroplasty to reduce lower limb joint pain. Although nonsurgical weight loss interventions can reduce hip and knee joint pain, bariatric surgery may be a more feasible treatment option for people with severe obesity. However, it is unclear whether weight loss through bariatric surgery can positively influence hip and knee joint pain. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of bariatric surgery on hip and knee joint pain in people with obesity by conducting a systematic review of the literature. The PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane bibliographic databases were searched for studies published between 1947 and September 2019. Risk of bias of the identified studies was independently assessed by 2 reviewers using JBI’s Critical Appraisal Checklist for Case Series and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. This review included 23 studies, all of which evaluated knee pain and 9 of which also evaluated hip pain. Reported results regarding hip pain intensity and the proportion of participants with hip pain were too limited to draw useful conclusions. Reported results regarding knee pain suggest that weight loss after bariatric surgery reduced knee pain intensity, as well as the proportion of participants with knee pain. The overall risk of bias of the majority of included studies (83%; n = 19) was judged to be unclear to high. Four small studies were judged as having a low risk of bias. Results of this systematic review suggest that bariatric surgery can positively influence hip and knee joint pain, but conclusive evidence is lacking because most of the included studies were judged as having plausible bias overall and in their key domains. Well-designed randomized controlled trials evaluating the influence of bariatric surgery on hip and knee joint pain using standardized joint pain measures are needed.
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