Too Many Total Knee Replacements Being Performed?

As far back as 2008, our blog reported on a marked increase in the number of total knee replacements that were being performed.  This trend seems to have been continuing, and, perhaps, not for the best.  According to a recent article in The Intelligencer, a rather high number of patients who elected to have a total knee replacement performed, were dissatisfied with the results.  According to the article:

Research suggests that up to one-third of those who have knees replaced continue to experience chronic pain, while 1 in 5 are dissatisfied with the results. A study published last year in the BMJ found that knee replacement had “minimal effects on quality of life,” especially for patients with less severe arthritis.”

In Pennsylvania workers’ compensation, a total knee replacement is a procedure with see with some regularity.  Whether the injured worker had a preexisting arthritic condition, which was aggravated by a work injury, or whether the work injury itself led directly to the procedure, a total knee replacement is not uncommon in a workers’ comp case.

Obviously, every patient is different, and we urge our injured workers to discuss options with their doctors, which could include a total knee replacement.  But, as the article notes, every patient is simply not an ideal candidate for a total knee replacement.  Whether the injured worker is carrying too much weight, or the arthritis present is not severe, or any one of a number of other factors, each case must be taken by its own facts.  Also, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker is entitled to a second opinion (and a third, at least), to truly explore the best option for that person.