Something that has come up a lot when I talk with people that have gone through gastric bypass surgery – hip pain. There are the “usual” pains that are associated with being obese such as knee and low back pain, but this is different. This pain starts maybe a month or so after surgery and can last for a few months. So what is it?
More than likely this pain is directly connected with the speed that you are losing weight and the fact that your body and muscles are having a difficult time adjusting. One of the reasons that you feel more hip pain after bypass surgery is due to a change in your walking pattern as you lose body fat.
Research into the differences in how obese and normal weight people show that there are some very specific patterns that obese people display when they walk. The pattern that the research saw that was unique to obese people is “[a] slower gait speed, wider stride width, and longer stance duration while walking compared to normal weight persons.” Or to put it a different way is obese people walk a bit slower with their feet further apart from each other during the walk. That the transition from one foot to the other takes longer, with a side to side motion. Yet as someone goes through the rapid weight loss that occurs with bariatric surgery the body starts to modify it’s walking pattern.
In terms of numbers this research shows that “Small weight loss of 7% over 3 mo produced small increases in gait velocity, stride length, stride rate, and swing duration and shortened cycle time, stance, and double support phases…” they start to walk faster and more in line with normal weight people.
So what does this change in gait have to do with the pain in the hips?
More than likely it’s sore muscles. For years your body fat has held your hips and legs in a certain position and you muscles have adapted to this and quite possibly atrophied due to lack of use. Once the body weight drops due to the bypass surgery your hips have been allowed to move more freely. In turn this challenges your once weak and under used muscles to work harder. Just like working out any muscle for the first time in a while they will get sore.
Yet the good thing is as you keep moving and exercising the pain will start to go away. The muscles will start adapting to this new movement and will have less pain or soreness. Of course if the pain is getting worse then it could be something completely different and you should see your doctor about that.