30 Years Ago All these Baby Boomers Would Have Been in Wheel Chairs

Joint-replacement patients these days are younger and more active than ever before. More than half of all hip-replacement surgeries performed this year are expected to be on people under 65, with the same percentage projected for knee replacements by 2016. The fastest-growing group is patients 46 to 64, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Many active middle-agers are wearing out their joints with marathons, triathlons, basketball and tennis and suffering osteoarthritis years earlier than previous generations. They’re also determined to stay active for many more years and not let pain or disability make them sedentary. To accommodate them, implant makers are working to build joints with longer-wearing materials, and surgeons are offering more options like partial knee replacements, hip resurfacing and minimally invasive procedures.

Full article on the baby boomer joint replacement craze.

Comments (6)

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  1. Vicki says:

    Wheel chairs and nursing homes.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Despite the high cost of medicine, the results are spectacular in many cases. Imaging the difference between the ability to walk without pain compared to spending the last 30 years of your life in a wheel chair of using a cane or walker.

  3. Tom H. says:

    Aah, so we are getting something for all the money we’re spending.

  4. Simon says:

    This prompts a new dilemma with early joint replacement intervention and longer life expectancy. Orthopedic injuries in the elderly have particularly high rates of morbidity and mortality. Although technology in joint replacement continues to improve there are still questions about the durability of replacements over 30 years. Will there be need to replace the replacement? Research shows “Between 18%-33% of older hip fracture patients die within 1 year of their fracture. . . . Depending upon the population studied and function being assessed, an estimated 25%-75% of those who are independent before their fracture can neither walk independently nor achieve their previous level of independent living within 1 year following their fracture.” (Magaziner J, 2000). Additionally “the number of people most vulnerable to chronic disorders and physical limitations, those over 85, will nearly triple. Thus, by the year 2040, over 650,000 hip fractures will occur annually in older adults, and 18-33% of these older hip fracture patients will die within the first year of their fracture (Resnick B, 2002).

    The baby-boomers will have relief now, but what about when they outlive the life of the replacement?

  5. Joe Barnett says:

    Excessive exercise is a lifestyle choice, and better prosthetics that allow people to run marathons are more expensive. Shouldn’t these people be penalized, by having to pay a greater percentage of the cost, just like people who smoke or are obese?

  6. Jim says:

    Excessive exercise?

    More like excessive body weight. Walking puts a strain on the knees equal to 3-6 times body weight.

    Rather than overdoing triathlons and marathons, I would suspect that most patients wind up on the OR table for total knee replacement arthroplasty as a consequence of overdoing Krispy Kremes and Ben & Jerry’s while lying on a couch watching other people exercise.