While the men generally were stronger and had more knee function than the women, the test results showed a much greater degree of physical disability in the female knee-replacement candidates compared to the males in the group.
The women afflicted with osteoarthritis were at a much more advanced stage than the men with the disease, Snyder-Mackler said. The women all had painful end-stage osteoarthritis, where the cushion of cartilage padding the knee bones has completely deteriorated and you basically have bone hitting against bone.
Why are women waiting so long before pursuing surgery?
Snyder-Mackler says there may be a number of reasons. Perhaps women can bear pain better than men, or a woman's world increasingly revolves around the home as we age, or it could be that women are just trying to follow doctor's orders.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common cause of disability among Americans. It's a disease of age that affects more women than men on a 60-40 basis, Snyder-Mackler said. Physicians generally have advised patients to wait as long as they can before pursuing knee replacements, with the thinking that it is a once-in-a-lifetime surgery that should last an average of 20 years. However, delaying surgery can limit the quality of life of patients because how they function before surgery indicates their performance afterward.
Women need to become more educated about the risks and benefits of knee-replacement surgery, Snyder-Mackler said, and heed the warning signs of serious problems.
When you feel profound buckling and weakness in your knee when climbing stairs, that is a major problem. You compensate--eventually, you may come downstairs only once a day, Snyder-Mackler said. As a result, you become sedentary and that's not good for your health. Earlier intervention can help preserve your mobility and quality of life.
The research is one of two UD studies led by Snyder-Mackler and repor
|Contact: Tracey Bryant|
University of Delaware