With 76 million Baby Boomers still thriving and active, many are rejecting the sedentary lifestyle of their parents’ generation (remove comma) and are using advances in technology and surgical techniques that enable them to keep on running, cycling, skiing and engaging in other sports, while maintaining very active lifestyles.
The 45-64 age group accounted for more than 40% of the more than 906,000 total knee or total hip replacement surgeries in 2012, the last year for which figures were available from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Baby Boomers will account for a majority of these joint replacements in 2014, according to a study done by Drexel University.
The study projects the 45-64 age group will account for a 17-fold increase in knee replacements alone, to 994,000 by 2030. Active Boomers often accelerate the arthritis which wears down their joints, and obesity is yet another factor.
“The majority of total hip and knee replacements are completed in patients aged 65 years and older, but the volume is increasing dramatically among 45-64 year-old patients,” said Daniel Harmon, DO, of Orthopedic Center of Florida in the Lee and Collier County area. Dr. Daniel Harmon completed his five year orthopedic surgery internship and residency at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation/South Pointe Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and then completed a fellowship in Adult Hip and Knee Reconstruction at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.
The majority of joint replacements are done for osteoarthritis, which is an arthritis that is developed over time from wear and tear. Nonetheless, Daniel Harmon claimed, “Regardless of age, the decision to pursue a total joint replacement is a decision made between the patient and physician with quality of life a determining factor. Obviously all conservative attempts at treatment must fail prior to surgical intervention. If surgery is an option, minimally invasive surgical techniques for reconstruction of the hip and knee have improved post-operative pain and allowed for a more rapid recovery.” One reason that there has been a surgical boom of joint replacements among Baby Boomers is that active Boomers have been proactive in opting to have replacement surgery sooner in order to experience less pain and a faster rehabilitation afterward.
Today’s patients have greater expectations about activity and recovery,” says Daniel Harmon, who specializes in minimal invasive joint replacements, and is an experienced instructor of the Anterior Total Hip Replacement procedure. “With implant companies turning their focus to longevity of the materials used, this has allowed us to consider joint replacement in younger patients in need of surgery. Current literature suggests that implants we use will last for 20 years or more.” This means doctors will consider doing joint replacement on younger patients who are in otherwise good health, but suffer from pain and a decrease in function, when conservative nonsurgical methods have failed and x-rays support the surgical option.
Baby Boomers don’t have to live with “Achy Breaky” parts and they are choosing not to. “It was an easy decision for me, when I learned the procedure was very likely to achieve benefits and very unlikely to have adverse effects, the decision was more about assessing the relative importance of quality of life factors,” said Louis Libby, who had a hip replacement done this past July.