Is That Knee Replacement Surgery Really Necessary?

Posted On : November 18, 2014,   Time : 4:37 pm

A knee replacement is one of the most common forms of surgery in the United States, with more than 600,000 people undergoing the procedure each year – more than double the rate of a decade ago. The numbers of knee replacement surgeries are only expected to rise as the American population continues to age.

But are all knee replacements truly necessary? The New York Times suggests that in many instances they’re not. For example, even though patients between the ages of 45 and are experiencing the greatest growth in knee replacements, the parts wear out after 20 years or so. That means these patients will likely need to undergo an additional knee replacement during their lifetime.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University also concluded that up to a third of subjects who underwent a knee replacement were not really good candidates for the procedure, with many only suffering from minor arthritis or pain when they went under the knife. After they had their knee joint replaced, their range of motion and pain improved only marginally.

“They had less room for improvement,” Daniel Riddle, M.D., professor of physical therapy and orthopedic surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the New York Times.

Knee-Replacement-XrayBy contrast, those patients with more serious knee problems who underwent the surgery benefitted enormously, with significant reductions in pain and increases in range of motion.

Riddle suggested patients who do not have a severe loss of cartilage in their knee consider alternatives to surgery, such as physical therapy or losing weight. Both cost significantly less than surgery and pose far less risk.

If you think you’re a candidate for knee replacement surgery but are unsure, consult one of our orthopedic physician specialists at

Read the New York Times article here.

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