I've heard that it may not be possible to even get a hip or knee replacement in the year 2020. Why is that?
It looks like the law of supply and demand is at issue here. Simply stated, more people will want and need a hip or knee replacement than there are surgeons to provide them. Right now, almost three-fourths of a million adults in the United States get a new hip or knee every year. That number is expected to top one million very quickly. It is predicted that by the year 2016, half of all patients who need a hip replacement won't be able to get one. And three-fourths of all patients seeking a knee replacement will be on a waiting list for a very long time.
There are two groups who are going to be affected the most by this problem: adults in the 45 to 54-year age group and adults older than 80 years. In both cases, increased activity and desire for improved quality of life are the reasons behind the increased demand. Emotional health, social function, and physical comfort are all affected by the pain of an arthritic joint.
That 45- to 54 year age category is an interesting one. Right now, that's the fastest growing group of patients seeking the services of an orthopedic surgeon for joint arthritis. And the group is growing in number by leaps and bounds. By the year 2030, the number of folks in this age range will increase from 59,000 to one million.
The Ins and Outs of Joint Replacement. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. April 2009. Vol. 26. No. 4. Pp. 124-126.
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