-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Rising rates of obesity
among people younger than 65 may be the main reason for the rapidly
increasing number of knee replacements in the United States,
according to a new study.
The findings dispel the popular belief that aging baby boomers
and weekend warriors are behind the unprecedented rise in knee
replacement surgeries, the researchers said.
The study authors looked at data from 9,000 knee replacement
patients that was gathered by more than 125 orthopedic surgeons
from 22 states. The analysis revealed that 55 percent of patients
younger than 65 were obese, compared with 43 percent of those who
were 65 or older.
Compared with those 65 and older, twice as many of the patients
younger than 65 were severely obese (5 percent versus 11 percent,
respectively). The younger group of patients also had higher rates
of smoking and lower mental health scores, the investigators
"What was once thought of as a procedure for older people or those with sporting injuries is changing. Our study shows that younger patients are more obese and experience the same amount of pain and functional disability as older patients and in some cases even more," study author Dr. David Ayers, director of the Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said in a university news release.
"What we're seeing is that the rise in obesity rates in younger people is having a dramatic influence on the number of total joint replacement surgeries. These are not premature or unnecessary procedures," added Ayers, who is also chair and professor of orthopedics and physical rehabilitation at the medical school, in Worcester, Mass.
The study was presented at a recent meeting of the American
College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health
Professionals in San Diego. The data and conclusions should be
viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
Knee replacement surgeries are one of the most common procedures
in the United States, with about 600,000 performed each year at a
cost of $9.9 billion. The number is expected to grow to 3.48
million procedures a year by 2030.
"Unless we see a significant reduction in obesity, we will continue to see the necessity for more and more of these procedures," Ayers said.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about
total knee replacement.
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