Skip to content

Arthritis Health Center

Hip and Knee Replacements on the Rise

More women and men are turning to artificial joints for a second lease on an active life.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature

Thinking about getting a new knee or a new hip next year? You're not alone. For baby boomers, it seems that joint replacements are as prevalent as iPods are for teenagers.

About 500,000 knee replacements and more than 175,000 hip replacements are performed annually, and those numbers are on the rise. In fact, hip replacements are expected to increase 174% in the next 20 years, and knee replacements will rise even more -- 673%, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' 2006 annual meeting.

Recommended Related to Arthritis

Heat and Cold Therapy for Arthritis Pain

Is there anything you can do about the pain and stiffness of arthritis? Perhaps you've heard that heat or cold therapy can help relieve pain and are wondering if it's worth giving them a try. Well, it is. Many arthritis doctors recommend both heat and cold treatments to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis. It may take a little "trial and error" to learn which therapy works best for your pain. But by staying with it, you may find the right combination...

Read the Heat and Cold Therapy for Arthritis Pain article > >

What's behind the growing demand for new joints?

Blame it on the lifestyle of the baby boom generation, says Mathias Bostrom, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, where total knee replacements were pioneered.

"They're not willing to be sedentary or change their lifestyle," Bostrom tells WebMD. "Their joints are beat up and they're living longer, and they want joints that let them do the things they're used to doing."

This also means that younger people, in their 50s and even 40s, are demanding joint replacements, increasing the market for the surgery. It's a trend that Bostrom sees mirrored at his hospital, as well as throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

Are joint replacements inevitable as we live longer?

"A hundred years ago, maybe we did more manual labor and worked our joints more, but we also didn't live nearly as long," Bostrom says. As our life expectancies increase, we're putting more demands on our joints -- and perhaps, hitting their sell-by dates. "Maybe our joints weren't designed to last as long as we're living these days."

A couple of decades ago, the majority of people needing joint replacement surgery had rheumatoid arthritis, a disease for which treatment has markedly improved. Now, osteoarthritis -- caused largely by trauma and wear and tear on the body -- is the leading reason for joint replacements.

Another reason behind the growing demand: joint replacements are getting better. "It's still major surgery and not as good as a native joint," says Bostrom. "But people do very well with joint replacements, and they last a long time, so many people are less anxious about getting them because they're more comfortable with the longevity of the joints."

Today on WebMD

Mature woman exercise at home
Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
feet with gout
Quiz yourself.
 
woman in pain
One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
senior couple walking
Can you keep your RA from progressing?
 
xray of knees with osteoarthritis
Slideshow
close up of man wearing dress shoes
Slideshow
 
feet with gout
Quiz
close up of red shoe in shoebox
Slideshow
 
salad
Video
two male hands
ARTICLE
 
Woman massaging her neck
Quiz
5 Lupus Risk Factors
Article