A report showing the number of knee replacement operations performed in the United States in the past decade has doubled doesn’t surprise San Antonio knee surgeons, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Dr. Josh Bell, who performs knee replacement surgery at the San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, cites several factors for the boom in knee replacements, including the fact that the American people are becoming more obese.
“As the population gets larger, in terms of obesity, arthritis is certainly more of a concern,” he told 1200 WOAI news.
Dr. Bell says Americans over the age of fifty aren’t content to sit in a rocking chair any more. He says most middle aged and older Americans want to remain active, and they feel they are slowed down by knee pain.
4.5 million Americans currently have replacement knees in their bodies, or about one in twenty of all Americans over the age of fifty.
Dr. Bell says what bothers him is when people in their forties or even thirties come to him for knee replacements, under the belief that it is a quick way to relive knee pain.
He says knee replacements are made of metal and plastic, and they wear out, with the average life of an artificial knee being between 15 and 20 years.
“These are mechanical parts, they’re going to wear out over time, and they may need to end up getting another surgery later.”
He says advances in medical science over the past ten years have made the knee replacement operation easier and less expensive, and he points out that Medicare and private insurance covers knee replacements in most cases.
And he says, just like the growing demand for many pharmaceuticals, knee replacement companies are aggressively marketing directly to consumers.
“Recently, you’ll see there are companies that advertise directly to the public,” he said.
Dr. Bell and other knee replacement surgeons agree that knee replacements are among the best use of the nation’s health care dollars.