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Knee Replacements Booming for Boomers

April 1st, 2016

Total replacements rise sharply, but BrightStar Care North Suburban discovers not all surgeons are as pro as pa

Knee replacements are in vogue, especially among the senior set and Boomers
where prevalence is booming.

About 500,000 knee replacements and more than 175,000 hip replacements are being performed annually, and those numbers are increasing.
Hip replacements are expected to rise 174% in the next 20 years, and knee replacements will increase even more over the next two decades to 673%, according to a study presented by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Not only are Boomers getting bummer knees replaced at a higher rate, they're getting them replaced at a younger age, a US study reports. According to the data, between 2000 and 2010,more than 5.2 million total knee replacements were performed in the U.S. By 2010, the operation had won gold medal status as the leading inpatient surgery performed on adults between age 45 or older. People are getting replacements at an earlier age; in 2000 the average age of a knee replacement candidate was around 69, but by 2010, the average age had dropped to 66, a three year decrease. So the big question becomes:

What's behind the boost in popularity of the procedure?

One way of putting it is Boomers want to "party on." A more medically and sociologically apt analysis
might be that maintaining a higher quality of life is a driving force. "Blame it on the lifestyle of the baby boom generation," says Mathias Bostrom, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery--the very same hospital where total knee replacements were pioneered.

"Boomers not willing to be sedentary or change their active lifestyles," Bostrom explained . "They're living longer and want joints that let them do the things they're used to doing." These days that includes everything from climbing mountains to Iron Man triathlons. Bad knees don't fit into that active lifestyle picture and settling for a life limping around and using a walker or cane, is well, arcane to Boomers like James Ardito of Wilmette, Illinois who had a total knee replacement on March 27th, 2016. James began experiencing pain six months prior to his surgery and after chiropractic care provided no relief, an orthopaedic surgeon diagnosed his condition as osteoarthritis.

Discussing his experience with BrightStar North Suburban, Ardito noted that his knee pain was sporadically intense, but it wasn't dire and Jim wasn't restricted from climbing the stairs in his three-story home, nor was he prevented from exercising entirely.
Three times a week he was able to swim (not run or bike) 2/3rds of a mile. Not bad. So why would he feel driven to have his knee replaced at 69 when he could have delayed or postponed it for a year, or two?

"This was entirely an elected procedure for me," says Ardito. "I had many discussions with my orthopedic surgeon prior to surgery. We traveled down every possible relief route: cortisone shots, a synvisc shot, different pain medications, physical therapy and this course of treatment made my life bearable, but in my estimation, not livable a.k.a. lively. I was direct and asked my orthopaedic doctor-- Robert McMillan of Illinois Bone & Joint two questions: 1) Was the arthritis going to get worse over time? (Yes) Was I eventually going to need the knee to be replaced? (Yes). That's when I asked him to do it.

Robert D McMillan, Chief Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon at Glenbrook Hospital, Il --the surgeon who performed the replacement on Ardito--was quite reluctant at first and delayed consenting to the surgery for a long time. In talking to BrightStar, he made it clear that he considers knee replacement as a last resort. McMillan acknowledges the rise in knee replacements--not just among Boomers and seniors--but across the board for people in other age groups too. He attributes this, in part, to people who've had it done and articles in the press and on blogs that make a case that total knee replacement is easier and safer than ever.

According to these sources, medications are better, technology and replacement materials have improved greatly in recent years, enabling the procedure to be done faster and improving outcomes. But all this doesn't mean replacement is "easy" or a piece of cake.

"In reality, it's more like a piece of concrete," says McMillan; "replacement is not a little deal; it's a big deal and should not be trivialized. I still feel it's a last resort and that's what I communicate to my patients and prospective knee replacement candidates."

Is Ardito going to be a knee replacement advocate, booming its praises to his family, friends and associates? Three days after his surgery, Ardito has only one thing to say: "It's too soon to tell, so the jury is out. However, my predominant thought at the moment is, 'ouch!'"

Post Script: If you enjoyed this blog, BrightStar Care North Suburban has a lot more to share with you on a wide range of interesting and topical subjects like "6 key ways to help seniors with diabetes" and that's just the start the useful and helpful information BrightStar Care makes available. Remember, we're here whenever
you kneed, er, need us 24/7. Feel free to contact us online or call (847) 510-5750 now.

Resources:
"Joint replacements on the rise" http://bit.ly/1qlkXHl
"Baby boomers flock to get knee replacements" http://nws.mx/1O1ZjzZ

 

Topics: Senior Care