These days, many people born between 1946 and 1964, the “baby boom” years, may identify less with a “boom” and more with the “creak” of stiffening joints, or maybe the “crunch” of bone-on-bone, where cartilage has worn away in aging knees or hips.
Millions struggle with pain and loss of motion because of joint damage. The damage is usually caused by osteoarthritis, a condition that can develop because of age or injury, and includes deterioration of the protective cartilage that allows joints to move smoothly and without causing pain.
While more conservative treatments such as medication, losing weight to ease joint stress, and changing physical activities may be the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery is a growing option for people who want to stay active as they age.
About 500,000 knee replacements and more than 175,000 hip replacements are performed annually, and those numbers are on the rise. Hip replacements are expected to increase 174% in the next 20 years, and knee replacements will rise even more — 673%, according to one study presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
The results of joint replacement surgery are good to excellent for more than 90 percent of people, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). While most patients are 60 and older, with ongoing improvements that are extending the life of artificial joints, many people in their 40s or 50s are also considering joint replacement.
Having surgery such as a knee replacement earlier in life can help a patient have quicker and better outcomes because the patient has more strength and stamina to persevere through the procedure and physical therapy. Younger patients also may have fewer chronic health conditions which can complicate surgery.
The Methodist Joint Replacement Center offers comprehensive orthopedic care, including joint replacement surgery and follow-up rehabilitation services. The center has a team of experienced orthopedic surgeons, nurses, clinicians, and therapists who work together to provide care designed especially for hip or knee replacement patients.