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Why More People Are Having Knee Replacement Surgery

Why More People Are Having Knee Replacement Surgery

Over the past two decades, the number of seniors getting total knee replacements has risen by more than 161 percent, according to a nationwide analysis of Medicare beneficiaries.

Researchers from the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine believe that the dramatic spike in demand for new knees is primarily being fueled by a rapidly growing elderly population that wishes to remain active in their later years.

Often reserved for seniors whose pain can no longer be mitigated by physical therapy or medications, joint replacement procedures can help aging adults gain greater mobility and find relief from arthritis pain.

Recent advances in knee replacement methods can now provide elders with more durable prosthetics. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved a knee implant meant to last up to thirty years. Surgeons are also currently in the process of testing out the effectiveness of using synthetic cartilage as a total knee replacement alternative.

Evidence indicates that joint replacement surgeries can help older Americans stay healthier longer by allowing them to move around and exercise with fewer aches.

A separate investigation, conducted by scientists from Harvard University, found that adults with osteoarthritis may be able to decrease their chances for heart failure by having total knee replacement surgery. Study authors felt that this connection was likely driven by the pain-relieving effects of the procedure, which enabled the aging adults to more easily maintain their physical fitness.

More surgeries not necessarily good news

But an increase in medical procedures isn’t necessarily a good thing. University of Iowa researchers feel their study brought up some concerning issues.

The increase in knee replacements also corresponded with a 50 percent decrease in the length of time an elder spent in the hospital following their surgery.

According to lead author, Peter Cram, M.D., less time in the hospital can increase a senior’s risk for complications.

“Our findings highlight the continued concern that declines in hospital length of stay are not a free lunch,” Cram says in an interview on the Journal of The American Medical Association website. “In particular, we can’t continue to reduce hospital length of stay indefinitely without having other downstream effects, complications.”

Indeed, over the past ten years, the number of seniors readmitted to the hospital with infections from their knee replacement surgeries has risen.

Cram and his fellow researchers hope the results of their investigation will help encourage doctors and policymakers develop interventions designed to stem the rising tide of seniors who need knee replacements.

As with any major surgery, there are downsides and health risks inherent in knee replacement surgery that should be taken into account before going under the knife.

Read the account of one woman who discovered exactly why Knee Surgery is a Very Big Deal

“More Seniors Going Under the Knife to Get New Knees” originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Aging, Arthritis, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

94 comments

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6:32AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

I am waiting on a knee replacement at the moment

4:34PM PST on Dec 10, 2013

My best friend had knee surgery about 10 years ago at age 50! At the time, her doctor didn't want to do the surgery because my friend would probably have to have the same knee replaced when she is older since the replacement would need to be replaced.
Today, my friend is limping again and does NOT want to go through that again!! I will tell her to check out the new technology.

11:32PM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

Active people in Canada seem to love to participate in 'extreme sports' judging by the number of people I notice hobbling around town. I wish they wouldn't involve their dogs in extreme sports, because they are also regular knee operation patients.

I look forward to new developments with regard to knee replacements prior to the time that I have to stand in line for this operation....

3:59AM PDT on Oct 20, 2013

Good article.

10:18PM PDT on Oct 19, 2013

For me, knee replacement is a future possibility. There needs to be a revamping of hospital stay lengths. Sometimes Medicare makes you leave the hospital and go to a nursing home for therapy because it's cheaper. The nursing home then tries to get you to go to a long term facility where you'll be transferred to the Medicaid program. It can get very confusing to seniors.

My mother just went through this with her hip replacement. That nursing home tried to tell her she couldn't go home, instead she needed to go to their long term home and sign over her Social Security to pay for it. In other words, they wanted her SSA and by keeping her, they would get it all but $50/month allowance. Be very careful out there and make certain your parents don't get into this situation.

6:38AM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

I hope I never have to make this decision.

4:31PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:26PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

thanks

1:47PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

Thank you AgingCare.com, for Sharing this!

2:28AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

Thanks foe article

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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