Total Knee Replacement Surgeries Have Doubled Over Past Decade

total knee replacementAccording to a new study, more than 4.5 million Americans are currently living with Total Knee Replacements (TKR). Over the past 10 years, TKR surgeries have doubled.

The study, presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, used US Census data, combined with the National Health Interview Survey, the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study, and the Osteoarthritis Initiative to come up with their findings.

Osteoarthritis is still the leading cause of Total Knee Replacement surgery. The study found that the sharpest rise was amongst the younger age group. Even so, the number of knee replacements generally increases with age. For example, 10 percent of Americans over 80 years old have had at least one TKR, compared with 4.7 percent in those aged 50 and up.

Dr. Silverman Comments

The elderly population is growing. Baby boomers are hitting retirement and don’t want to slow down. Who can blame them?

As a result, the rate of total joint replacement is increasing. As our techniques and equipment improve, replacements last longer and orthopedic surgeons are putting joints into younger patients. As health care extends the lives of patients, they are more active and wear out these new joints at a faster rate. Consequently, more revisions are going to be required. Revision is always more challenging for the surgeon and always associated with a higher rate of complication.

This study lists Osteoarthritis (OA) as the most common cause. However, what causes OA?  Obesity and diabetes are the true problems. Excess pressure from being overweight for years and the nutritional issues associated with diabetes (e.g. hyperglycemia related to the American typical diet leads to excess damage to cartilage and Degenerative Joint Disease).

The cost of Cheeseburger, Fries and shake may seem cheap, but the costs to society are enormous (pun intended).

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Lance Silverman, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of Silverman Ankle & Foot. Treating Minnesotans with Ankle & Foot problems since 2004.

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