Changing Trends in Total Joint Replacement
When it comes down to it, total joint replacement procedures such as knee or hip arthroplasty (replacement) have been on the rise over the last couple decades. This is largely attributed to demographic changes as the boomer generation ages into retirement; however, according to a study presented at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ last annual meeting, it turns out that the average patient is actually getting younger.  Furthermore, the researchers noted a trend of more males choosing these surgeries.
Clearly, ideas about who actually gets procedures like total knee or total hip arthroplasty need to be revised. This certainly has significant implications for patients and doctors alike, so it’s worth taking a closer look at this study.
Total joint replacement surgery is widely known to be the most common elective surgery performed in the US. As such, Drs. Matthew Sloan and Neil P. Sheth assessed data from 2000 to 2014, focusing on the demographics of who was opting for these procedures. They relied on information from The National Inpatient Sample, which recorded over 116 million doctor’s visits.  This information was then run through a couple sophisticated statistical analysis to draw out the relevant trends.
So what did they find? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Overall Increase: In line with previous work, the researchers noted an overall increase the amount of surgeries performed.
- Patients Are Younger: Every year for this 15 year period saw a slight but significant decline in the average age of patients: from over 66 to less than 65.  Primary total joint arthroplasty overall saw decreases, especially for total knee arthroplasty.
- More Men: The proportion of women who elected to undergo these procedures saw small but significant declines every year of the survey, meaning men were increasingly likely to have this work done. That said, women still represent a majority of cases.
- Increased Diversity: Sloan and Sheth also looked at racial characteristics of patients, noting decreases in the proportion of non-Hispanic whites for all cases except total hip arthroplasty. This means larger amounts of minorities are having this work done than in the past, though they’re still under-represented.
The shifts are subtle, the researchers noted, but no less significant, and no doubt this has implications for how severe joint problems should be handled and addressed by the medical community as a whole.
Treating Different Populations
So what can we make of these changing demographics? What explains them? Definitive answers are forthcoming, but, as Dr. Sloan told CNN, it may be “possibly due to increasing obesity or increased access to care in a generation that desires to maintain an active lifestyle into their retirement years.”  The boomers, it seems, aren’t willing to hang up their running shoes and athletic gear. The expectations of senior living—older people not wanting to give up on active lifestyles—has lead more and more to making this decision.
A big reason for the overall increase in these procedures has to do with their relative efficacy and impact; put simply, total joint replacement today is not what it was in 2000. According to Dr. Sloan, some increases may be due to the impact of such surgery not being as severe as before due to the increased precision of tools and techniques. “Today, there are total joint replacements being performed on an outpatient basis, with patients returning home on the same day of surgery,” he said.  On top of that, outcomes are even better than in the past.
Taking the Right Steps
While total joint replacement isn’t for every case—and it’s rarely if ever the first line of treatment—it’s helped countless people suffering with severe arthritis get back on their feet. There’s little wonder that, on average, about 700,000 total knee replacements and 400,000 hip replacements are performed in the US a year.  Clearly, these and other arthroplasty surgeries have a prominent place in medicine.
Severe arthritis in the joints is difficult and painful. Not only can it make walking impossible or incredibly uncomfortable, but it can rob you of quality-of-life. You simply can’t be there for loved ones or family when you’re suffering. This is why it’s essential to seek out effective and dedicated treatment; living with pain, braving through it, should not be an option.
If you suffer from osteoarthritis or another painful condition of the ankle, foot, knee, shoulder, or hip, the team at Onward Orthopedics can help. Employing the latest and best in techniques and technologies, they’ve helped countless patients achieve positive outcomes. Learn more about what they do by calling (800) 577-1693 today!
- Susan Scutti, CNN. 2018. “More Men, Younger Americans Having Joint Replacement Surgery”. CNN. Accessed December 28 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/health/hip-knee-replacement-surgeries-earlier-study/index.html.
- Sloan, Matthew, and Neil P Sheth. 2018. “Changing Demographics In Primary And Revision Total Joint Arthroplasty”. Submissions.Mirasmart.Com. http://submissions.mirasmart.com/Verify/AAOS2018/Submission/out/AAOS2018-005902.PDF.