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Market Booms for Boomer Knee Replacements

April 5th, 2016

Total knee replacements are really rising , but BrightStar Care Serving Winnetka discovers not all surgeons are as pro-procedure as patients

There's a lot of it going around and it's catching on. We're not talking about the flu. We're talking about total knee replacements that are gaining in popularity and moving up in the charts for "golden oldies--Boomers and other seniors
who are generally singing its praises for lifestyle reasons. In the process, caution is more or less being pushed aside like so much sinew and cartilage and some surgeons are feeling that the operation is not getting the "think it through" respect it deserves.

So just how popular is total knee replacement these days? According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons),
about 500,000 knee replacements and more than 175,000 hip replacements are being performed annually, and those numbers are booming.
Knee replacements will increase by (whew!) 673% in the next 20 years and hip replacements are expected to rise 174%.

Boomers are also getting bummer knees replaced at a younger age, a U.S. study reports. The data notes that between 2000 and 2010,more than 5.2 million total knee replacements were performed in the U. S. By 2010, the procedure had become the leading inpatient surgery performed on adults between age 45 or older. Data also points to the fact that it's gaining popularity with the "younger set" too. In 2000 the average age of a knee replacement candidate was around 69, but by 2010, the average age had dropped to 66--a drop of three years--so the question of the day is:

What's boosting procedure popularity?

Are seniors more in the mode of "partying on." Actually that rather cavalier question is not all that removed from the truth. While it may not be a party per se, it is a matter of quality of life and maintaining an active, fully engaged, the "sun-is-hardly-setting" existence. "The driving force of this is the lifestyle of the baby boom generation," says Mathias Bostrom, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery--the hospital where total knee replacements were pioneered.

Bostrom explained that, "Boomers are not willing to be sedentary or change their active lifestyles. They're living longer and want joints that let them do the things they're used to doing and want to do." It's no revelation that activities these days literally run the gamut from 10Ks to marathons. Bummer knees don't fit into the that kind of lifestyle picture and a great snapshot of one person's perspective of the procedure and motivation to get it done comes from a Boomer in the North Shore area who is only days removed from total knee replacement as of the writing of this post.

On March 29, 2016, James Ardito of Wilmette, Il had a total replacement of his right knee, which Ardito learned is not just the right knee, it's also also the "correct knee." James began experiencing pain six months prior to his surgery. "The pain just kind of appeared one day," James (Jim) explained. "I went to my chiropractor, but that didn't make much difference. I finally went to an orthopedic surgeon at Illinois Bone & Joint, who diagnosed my condition as osteoarthritis."

In explaining his history and experience to BrightStar Care Evanston ("go Wildcats!") Ardito noted that his knee pain was sporadically intense, but not dire. Jim wasn't restricted from climbing the three sets of stairs in his home on Park Ave, and he was still able to exercise. He couldn't bike, jog at the Evanston Athletic Club (EAC), but he was
able to swim 2/3rds of a mile three times a week. Not bad. So with all that ability to get around, why would Jim still be driven to have his knee replaced at 69 when he could have safely limped along for a year or two or maybe more?

"Limping along was not good enough for me," explains Ardito, "so in this respect, the surgery became a really 'elective' procedure. " As a result, the journey to my eventual replacement was not swift at all My orthopaedist insisted that I try every possible relief route first: cortisone shots, a synvisc shot, a range of pain medications, physical therapy, etc. These treatments made my life bearable, but in my estimation, not optimal by a long shot.
I had an open and honest discussion with my doctor-- Dr. Robert McMillan of Illinois Bone & Joint and eventually asked him two critical questions: First, was the arthritis going to get worse over time? (Yes) Second: Was I eventually going to need the knee to be replaced? (Yes was the answer to that too). That's when I decided I wanted to have the knee done.

In talking to BrightStar Care about Ardito's (and others') experience, McMillan made it painfully care (pun intended) that he considers knee replacement as a last resort. The surgeon notes the rise in knee replacements among Boomers and seniors, but he also notes an increase in replacements in other age groups too. Like other surgeons, McMillan attributes the increase to an aging population that
wants to keep the pulse rate of life higher, but he uniquely notes positive press articles and even the word on the street, that gives knee replacement positive press noting its increasing frequency and the fact that the procedure is easier and safer than ever. Media makes a point that methodology and technology have improved greatly in recent years, enabling the procedure to be done faster and improving outcomes. While this is all true, acknowledges McMillan, it still does not mean knee replacement is without risk
or "easy" for the patient. "'Easy' is not the word patients going through rehab use," notes McMillan. "Those words aren't printable."

McMillan is emphatic. "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 prospective knee replacement candidates."

Is Ardito going to be a knee replacement advocate, booming its praises to his family, friends and associates? Four 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 a big, fat, 'OUCH!'"

PS: If you benefited from and/or enjoyed this blog, BrightStar Care Evanston has a lot more to share with you on a wide range of interesting, important and topical subjects like "Tough truths and good news about women and heart disease"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