Though the reasons for the dramatic increase are not clear, it appears total knee replacements and total hip replacements are much more frequent now than in the past. According to an article on the American Medical Association website, total knee replacements increased 63% from just 1997 to 2004. Over that some period, total hip replacements were up 48%.
One of the potential reasons for the striking increase is the trend of the population to generally be both older and heavier, putting greater strain on these joints. Better technology in performing the total joint replacements has also been said to have increased the frequency with which the procedures are recommended by doctors.
From the perspective of patients, the total knee replacement or total hip replacement may appear to be a safer long-term way to treat their chronic pain than continued use of medications. This is especially true given the controversy, and apparent side effects, of the class of medications including Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex, known as Cox-2 Inhibitors. An increase in the amount of advertising by the manufacturers of the artificial joints may also make patients more interested in having the total joint replacements done
While not dealing specifically with workers’ compensation, this information is still important to injured workers. Decisions on whether to get a total knee replacement, or total hip replacement, are common in work injury cases.