WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
April 17, 2008 -- The number of hip and knee replacements performed in the
U.S. could skyrocket in the next seven years, researchers warn, placing an
enormous burden on America's already beleaguered health care system.
An increase in obesity and arthritis -- combined with a larger elderly
population -- has prompted a steep rise in these surgeries. Seventy-six million
Americans reach retirement age this year, and many baby boomers are right
behind them. Since arthritis is more common in older adults, experts predict
more and more cases of arthritis in the coming years.
Arthritis affects more than 46 million Americans; it can cause joint pain,
stiffness, and swelling. While more common in older adults, arthritis isn't
simply an effect of aging. Carrying extra weight also increases a person's risk
for arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight could make you less likely to
Joint replacement surgery is a popular treatment option for those with
severe, debilitating arthritis that causes significant pain or greatly limits
their ability to move.
Using data from joint replacement cases in the U.S. from 1997 and 2004,
researcher Sunny Kim, PhD, with the Robert Stempel School of Public Health at
Florida International University, analyzed the increase in the number of
surgeries and their cost.
Her research shows:
Kim published her findings in the April 14 issue of Arthritis Care &
Research. She writes that 600,000 hip replacements and 1.4 million knee
replacements could be performed in the year 2015 if current trends persist.
"Public health education is critically important to reduce the
proportion of people who are overweight as well as to manage arthritis at
earlier stages," she says in a news release. "At the same time, given
the steeply increasing trends of joint replacements and the expected number of
joint revisions needed, the health care community should be prepared for this
upcoming demand of surgical loads and its economic burden on government and
private insurance systems."
Considering a knee replacement? Already had one? Read one man’s
journey from surgery to full recovery, and share your own story on WebMD’s Pain
SOURCES:News release, Wiley-Blackwell.Kim, S. Arthritis Care & Research, April 15, 2008; vol 59: pp
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