Knee needs rise with aging population

News Archive (2009)

Knee needs rise with aging population.

Joy Slagowski
Daily News-Sun

An aging population is causing "an explosive growth" in knee replacement surgery, according to one local expert. John Thompson, an orthopedic surgeon, will be giving a free community lecture "Joint Replacement: How do you know when it's time?" at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 in Memorial Hall at Banner Boswell, 13180 N. 103rd Drive, Sun City.

Reservations are encouraged by calling 602-230-CARE (602-230-2273). Light refreshments will be served.

Thompson is medical director of Banner Boswell's Joint Club, a special unit dedicated to the care of patients undergoing total knee or hip replacements. Thompson specializes in adult reconstruction, and primary and revision hip and knee replacement surgery.

"They should try all of the non-operative means first, such as over-the-counter remedies, topical ointments, Tylenol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meidations." Thompson said. "(They should also try) ice, heat, bracing and activity modifications. They should also try physical therapy, injections and also herbal medications."

But if those fail, surgery can be a consideration if radiographs confirm degenerative arthritis.

The surgery is extremely painful, Thompson said, and recovery takes a full year.

"The first 48 hours are when there is the most significant amount of pain," Thompson said. "But we begin physical therapy about three hours after surgery, which at that point is when we get everyone up and walking."

A normal hospital stay is three days, with physical therapy taking place twice a day while there.

Thompson said about 50 percent of patients recover within about two months, while it will take three months for another 25 percent to recover.

"It takes a year to be 100 percent recovered," Thompson said. "Also, we tell patients if they have both knees replaced at the same time, they never heal at the same rate: one hurts and is more stiff than the other."

In the long run, though, studies are showing those who have knee replacements are actually saving money.

"When they start calculating the pain medication, disability from it, or time off work, it's one of the few procedures that confirms its cost effectiveness is great," Thompson said.

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