Among a group of patients with severe obesity who underwent bariatric surgery, a large percentage experienced improvement in pain, physical function, and walking capacity over 3 years, according to a new study.

Severe obesity can be associated with joint pain and impaired physical function, like the ability to bend, lift, carry, and walk.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied more than 2,200 patients from 10 U.S. hospitals. Patients filled out questionnaires about their pain and physical function before surgery, and each year for 3 years after surgery. Patients also participated in a 400 meter walking test.

The results found that 50 to 70 percent of patients experienced significant improvements in body pain and physical function and in the walking test. In addition, they found three-fourths of participants with severe knee and hip pain experienced improvements in arthritis symptoms.

Click here to read the publication in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.