Monday, May 5, 2014

Rate of Total Knee Replacements

Edward Ferguson
I have a little arthritis in my knees.  At this point, they aren't bothering me enough to seek medical care.

However, many people my age or just older than I are seeking a TKR or total knee replacement.

For these reasons, I decided to look at the rate of total knee replacement for persons in the US.

For an overview of key statistics about knee surgery, see this excellent infographic by Healthline:

Click to see full infographic.
* 63% of recipients of TKR are female.

* 5.3% of Americans women and 4% of American men have at least one TKR.

* 10% of Americans age 80 or older live with at least one TKR.

* The largest rate of increase are for those middle aged: Between 1997 and 2009, the rate of TKR for those 45 to 64 increased 157%

See the infographic for additional information on causes, complications, and revision rate. 

I found a recently published article from the The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that seeks to explain the dramatic increase in the rate of TKR surgeries.

The researchers noted that from 1999 to 2008, the rate of surgeries increased by 134% to 615,050 surgeries.  The greatest gains were from people 45 to 64 years old. 

The increase, however, cannot be entirely explained by the Baby Boomers aging or by the obesity epidemic.   There are other factors possibly at play. Here is the conclusion of this study:

The recent increase is likely related to a multitude of factors, including a growing prevalence of sports-related knee injuries and expanded indications for total knee replacement due to both patient and surgeon preferences.
For whatever the reason, total knee replacements are becoming more common.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers this graphic, showing the increase rate of TKR in the US just for those 65 and older:

Click image to go to graphic at CDC.
* The graphic illustrates data drawn from 1979 to 2002.

* The rate is higher for women than men for every year. 

* The rate increases steadily throughout the entire time period. 

If you want more information about arthritis, CDC has a series of pages on the topic

While this post focuses mainly on the rate of TKR surgeries in the United States, you can learn more about the risks of TKR, the various causes of knee problem, the mechanics of surgery and possible complications by reading this page by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


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  1. i have noticed the same thing. You have no idea how much I want to avoid this. As I sit here w/ my back gone out. Sigh.

  2. My mother played tennis 2-3 times a week until she was 50. Then her knees stopped working. She's had them both replaced. Her arthritis is bad, and contributed to the problem. So far I have avoided this problem - but I don't play that much tennis :)

  3. SORRY. I had to CLOSE comments on this thread because too many businesses were posting ads here.