NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 3, 2006

Fitness-crazed baby boomers and aging jocks who refuse to be sidelined likely will contribute to an increase in joint replacement surgeries in the near future, say observers. 

According to a study presented in March at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • The number of knee replacement surgeries performed in the United States likely will increase by 673 percent to 3.48 million by 2030. 
  • The number of hip replacement surgeries likely will increase by 174 percent to 572,000 over the same period.

Many baby boomers seek joint replacement surgeries to allow them to remain active as they age, but, as patients get younger, one potential concern is the need for a second replacement, say observers.  Ninety percent of replacement devices will last at least 10 years, although some surgeons maintain that the devices can last as long as 20 years. 

"The bottom line is, these devices don't last forever," says Steven Kurtz, a biomedical engineer at Drexel University.

According to Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon in Philadelphia, "Prior generations lived with a little limp.  But baby boomers are the first generation to try to stay active on an aging frame. They want to turn back the clock at just about any cost."

Source: Kerry Fehr-Snyder, "New Joints: Boomers are getting them sooner than ever now," New Jersey Daily Record, August 1, 2006; and Michael Stroh, "Boomers boosting rise in hip, knee replacement; By 2030, the number of knee replacements expected to grow 673 percent, according to study," Baltimore Sun, July 31, 2006.


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