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Increasing rate of knee replacements linked to obesity among young, researchers say
Date:10/31/2013

BOSTON Contrary to popular myth, it is not the aging Baby Boomer or weekend warrior that is causing the unprecedented increase in knee replacement surgeries. Data gathered by more than 125 orthopedic surgeons from 22 states across the U.S. show a more mundane culprit: rising rates of obesity among those under the age of 65.

A first-of-its-kind database for knee and hip replacements and patient reported outcomes FORCE-TJR is beginning to yield information that may have significance for one of the most expensive, most used surgical procedures in the U.S. total joint replacement.

"What was once thought of as a procedure for older people or those with sporting injuries is changing," said David Ayers, MD, Chair of the Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation and director of the Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. "Our study shows that younger patients are more obese and experience the same amount of pain and functional disability as older patients and in some cases even more."

In the first 9,000 patients whose outcomes were tracked in FORCE-TJR, the national research program led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 percent of patients under age 65 were considered technically obese compared to 43 percent age 65 and older. Even more striking was that twice as many younger patients were in the morbidly obese category (body mass index greater than 40) 11 percent of those under age 65 versus 5 percent age 65 and older. The younger patients also had higher rates of smoking and lower mental health scores.

"What we're seeing is that the rise in obesity rates in younger people is having a dramatic influence on the number of total joint replacement surgeries," Ayers said. "These are not premature or unnecessary procedures."

Knee replacement surgeries are already one of the most common procedures in the U.S. Approximately 600,000 ar
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Contact: Dave Falcone
Dfalcone@denterlein.com
617-482-0042
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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