TORONTO May 19, 2013 from Don't Fall by Will Gage
“You’re too young for a knee replacement. Come see me again in 10 or 11 years.” Have you heard this before? Or has one of your loved ones heard this? You may not be aware, and your physician might not be aware, that the demographics of knee and hip replacement patients are changing. Patients are getting younger. The fastest growing age group for knee and hip replacement surgery is between 45 and 54 years of age. What is going on? Joint replacement patients are getting younger and younger
According to the Canadian Joint Replacement Registry, which is managed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), over the past decade, the number of joint replacement surgeries in Canada has increased by about 100% – that is, the number of people getting joint replacement surgery has doubled. These statistics are consistent with results from around the world. And the world over, knee and hip replacement patients are getting younger and younger. Over this same period of time, the average age of joint replacement patients has decreased by a couple of years. However, the fastest growing group of patients has been between the 45 and 54 years of age. This group has grown by almost 200% - that is, the number of people getting joint replacement surgery has almost tripled in the past 10 years. The number of patients between 55 and 64 years of age has grown almost as much.
What is joint replacement?
Joint replacement is a surgical procedure to treat moderate and severe arthritis – most commonly, osteoarthritis. The most commonly replaced joints are the knee and the hip, but the elbow and shoulder joints can also be replaced. In effect, the ends of the two bones that meet to form a joint are removed and replaced with an artificial surface – an implant. For instance, for the knee joint, the end of the tibia – the main bone of the lower leg – and the end of the femur – the thighbone – are removed using a saw. The surgeon will use a “jig” or template to make sure that the cut ends of the bones are the right shape for the implant. Then, instead of having the cartilage at the ends of the bone meet to form the joint, the new implanted surfaces meet. The #1 reason for having joint replacement is to treat the pain of really bad osteoarthritis. Potential benefits of joint replacement surgery
The pain and discomfort associated with moderate and severe knee or hip arthritis can be debilitating. It becomes difficult to walk – forget about jogging. Staying active becomes incredibly challenging, because everything hurts. Having the joint replaced almost always results in reduced pain, reduced inflammation and swelling, improved range of movement at the joint, greater mobility, and improved quality of life. If you ask a patient why they elected to have their knee replacement done, these are the reasons that they’ll most likely give you. However, there are other potential benefits – or more to the point, threats avoided. We all know that a sedentary lifestyle is a threat to your health. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and obesity; diabetes; high blood pressure and heart disease; and stroke, to name just a few potential problems. And severe joint pain can make you sedentary. Joint replacement surgery typically reduces your pain, allowing you to become more active again, and effectively avoid and reduce your risk of all of these other problems. I, and others, have often thought that joint replacement surgery might be the best thing a person can do for their heart, let alone their knee.
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