Study: 7 Million Americans Living with New Joints - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Study: 7 Million Americans Living with New Joints

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SALISBURY, Md.- It is no longer just grandma with a new hip, or your great uncle with a new knee. A new study -- the first of its kind -- finds joint replacement surgery is much more common than you might think. The study finds more than two out of every 100 Americans is living with an artificial joint. It is a trend that is expected to rise.

The surgery keeping grandma and grandpa moving is breaking the age barrier.

"There's definitely younger and younger patients coming in," noted Dr. Pasquale Petrera of Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates.

It is a study with numbers being called "remarkable." Some seven million Americans now have a joint replacement.

"Through the years, we have found that the replacements actually do very well and last a lot longer than we'd think in properly selected patients with properly selected implants," explained Dr. Petrera.

He said he is noticing the trend in his office.

"They're not willing to tolerate pain and deformity and disability," Dr. Petrera said. "They want to get back to their active lives. And with a hip or knee replacement, even with someone in their 50's or 60's, they can get back to doing some of the things they want to do."

One of those patients, 55-year-old Howard Bounds, said that before his surgery, he suffered a lot of pain and limited mobility. Just a couple weeks into his recovery, Bounds said he is noticing a big difference.

"I can see a lot less pain and I'm already getting a lot of mobility back in my leg."    

According to Dr. Petrera, besides patient demand and refusal to live with pain, improved technology and more surgeons willing to perform replacements are helping to fuel the boom.

Dr. Petrera said he expects to see joint replacement surgery to continue to grow in popularity, but also foresees cost issues in the future. He said Medicare is becoming reluctant to pay for the procedure, and anticipates potential problems related to the Affordable Care Act.

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