Maybe it’s our desire to stay young or the distaste of feeling old. Either way, the demographics of joint replacement is going down.
“I think the baby-boomers want to stay very, very active. So they’re kind of pushing the age down,” says Dr. Ed Humbert, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
And the time is right for younger joint patients. Up to now, people had to weigh their discomfort against how long the joint might last before another surgery was needed.
“Thirty years ago they said ‘well this may only last ten years’ so people tried to push it to their very, very last chance to do it,” says Dr. Humbert.
So why the change of heart? The driving force behind worn out joints is still the same: arthritis. Fueled by injury, genetics or overuse - the main difference is the parts. Technology has evolved to make artificial joints last longer.
“We know the parts will last a little longer, so we’re more likely to recommend it,” says Dr. Humbert. “Patients are saying ‘well if this can last me 30 years when I’m 50 years old, at least it’s going to get me until I’m 80 or 85’”.
Growing old without wearing out is keeping patients young at heart.
“They have the ability to do fun exercises and play with kids and play golf and do sports,” says Dr. Humbert.
The takeaway on joint replacement is lower age and higher expectation.