(WXYZ) - We’ve all heard about elderly people needing knee replacements, but a growing trend shows people even in their 40s getting new knees.
Karen Ferriera is all about being active, but not so long ago she was anything but.
“I was wearing a brace all day living on pain killers and I could barely walk my dogs around the block,” said Ferriera.
Her doctor tried several things including physical therapy and cortisone shots, but ultimately, she was told she needed a new knee.
“I thought he was pretty much crazy. I was 46 at the time. It just didn’t seem possible,” said Ferriera.
But it was. Recent studies show the number of knee surgeries has doubled in the last decade and more women than men are ending up in the operating room with one knee replacement.
It’s the fact that the people getting them are younger and younger…decades younger…that is so surprising to many.
In 2009 alone, The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reported that the number of surgeries topped 600,000. That’s twice the number of procedures of the past decade.
“Historically, knee replacements were meant primarily for older populations. What we’ve seen with this rise in baby boomers is a lot of people have worked hard and played hard and now they need to pay hard,” said Maury Harwood, MD, MPH.
Dr. Harwood says this trend is the result of a combination of forces.
Number one: Boomers who are more physically active.
Number two: Today’s ‘Need It Now’ mentality.
Number three: Improved technology.
“The main advancement in knee replacement technology is we’re moving toward custom implants. Nowadays what we’re doing is we’re using MRIs and CT scans and we’re actually building three-dimensional models of people’s knees and making implants that fit them specifically,” said Dr. Harwood.
I’m back to walking my five, six miles. I ride my bike. I can do all the activities I love,” added Ferriera. She had her surgery done a few years ago. She received a patient specific partial replacement using the ConforMIS.
Dr. Harwood says the custom fit makes it easier than ever to get back to normal activities after the procedure. However there are concerns.
“There are studies that show that if you are very, very active and do a lot of pounding on these replacements that you’ll loosen them and the replacement will fail earlier. So I do consult there are certain things they just shouldn’t do,” said Dr. Harwood.
Karen knows it’s a definite possibility she may have to have the surgery done again some day. But right now, she only has one regret.
“I should never have waited as long as I did,” said Ferriera.
Experts say avoiding certain pounding exercises could help the replacement last longer.
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