Osteoarthritis has largely become the main culprit for sore joints, aching bones and a decrease in exercise – especially for the baby boomer generation. As the first boomers reach the official retirement age of 65 this year, many have already undergone knee replacement surgery due to a surge in physical activity.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) noted the total number of knee replacements performed from 2004 to 2008 rose 30 percent. And a large majority of these patients were between the ages of 45 and 64 years old.
If you fall into this age range and are looking into knee replacement surgery, read the following 8 facts AARP advises all patients to know before going under the knife:
- Know why the surgery is done: Knee replacement surgery alters the surfaces of the knee joint in order to shift weight placement. Damaged bone and tissue are removed and replaced by an artificial joint made from alloy of cobalt or titanium and a plastic compound called polyethylene. Roughly 6 to 10 percent of patients are suitable candidates for this operation.
- What it is for: A successful operation may offer increased mobility or decreased joint pain.
- Pricing: The cost for knee replacement surgery can range from $34k to $46k, including a 3-5 day hospital stay, extra surgical fees and physical therapy. Partial replacements cost up to half as much.
- The roles your hospital and surgeon play: Basically, the more operations completed in a year by your surgeon, the higher success rate your surgery will have. A 2004 study by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery showed a lower number of complications in hospitals that had over 200 procedures completed a year.
- “Gender specific” devices: In 2008, women made up about 63 percent of all knee replacement operations, prompting marketing companies to target those with less knowledge about the procedure with devices tailored to gender. However, devices used following surgery to assist the patient should be tailored to body size and not physique. Your doctor can easily take measurements for the correct device necessary.
- Recovery: Expect to give about two months time and dedication to healing and physical therapy following the operation. Letting time pass for longer than two weeks without physical therapy will cause the knee joints to freeze up and lose range of motion.
- Time Off: Since recovery and physical therapy is critical for successful results, plan to take about two weeks off work.
- Be realistic: Michael R. Baumgaertner, M.D. and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine knows the end result for patients who don’t take the time to research knee replacement surgery, or take it seriously enough. "A knee replacement improves quality of life by reducing pain and improving mobility. It is not designed to make you younger or allow you to do activities that add stress to the joint or risk added injury," says Baumgaertner.
By taking these 8 factors into consideration when looking into knee replacement surgery it will help prepare you for you operation.