Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee and hip pain, afflicting an estimated 40 million Americans. Also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can cause the deterioration of both the knee and hip. As the US population continues to age, it is estimated that osteoarthritis will affect as many as one in five Americans by the year 2020.
Although osteoarthritis is not life-threatening, it does have significant effects on the quality of life of those who suffer from it. While non-surgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs – i.e. Naproxen, Aleve, Proxen, etc., and joint fluid injections (such as Hyaluronan, Synvisc, and Synflex) can delay the need for surgery, the only long-term solution is total joint replacement surgery.
There are a number of misconceptions about total hip replacement and total knee replacement surgery. The most common is that total knee replacement and total hip replacement are highly-dangerous procedures. In reality, total knee replacement and total hip replacement surgery have the highest success rates of any elective surgeries performed today.
Currently, the vast majority of knee and hip replacement surgeries are performed in minimally-invasive fashion. This allows for minimal scarring and faster healing times, while maintaining the same success rate. While some believe that minimally-invasive procedures may result in different outcomes, the data show that these procedures are equal to their more-invasive counterparts – the only difference being the size and appearance of the incision.
Another misconception is the idea that joint replacements can only last as long as twenty years. This is not necessarily the case. The reason for this is, of course, that the data being used for this assumption is based on knee and hip replacements that were performed twenty years ago. Research is constantly being done to increase the performance of joint replacement devices, and a great deal of time has gone into developing improved models. New production methods and materials will likely increase the lifetime of hip and knee replacements in the future.