Over the last decade, the number of people getting knee replacement surgery has doubled. This isn’t because people are getting clumsier or their bones are getting brittler. It’s because medical advances are making knee replacement easier and safer, as well as showing just how important the procedure can be.
More and more people are staying active later in life, and so signs of arthritis that might have been ignored or dismissed are being noticed, and people are demanding treatment. People aren’t necessarily more likely to experience joint pain as they age, but they are less inclined to let it sideline them. Instead of settling into a sedentary old age, Baby Boomers are working hard and playing hard into their 50s and 60s, and even mild joint pain an be an obstacle to that. Patients are calling for treatments so they don’t need to sit back and let the world pass them by.
Moreover, knee replacement seems to have additional benefits. In part because the surgery does allow people to be more active, to be more athletic, to walk more, knee replacement patients are less likely to experience heart failure. In addition to the surgery making it possible to get more exercise and generally maintain a healthier lifestyle, researchers speculate that the quality-of-life improvements found in patients after the surgery translate into better overall health.
Doctors note that not every arthritis patient is a candidate for surgery. It depends on a variety of factors, including prior health status, the type of arthritis, and the degree and severity of pain. If you think you might benefit from knee replacement, consult with a doctor.