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Dr. Bruce Jones, St. Luke's Hospital

Knee replacement can help improve quality of life

If you are a member of the baby boomer generation, you know what it means to live life to the fullest. Many of these people, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, are doing just that as they become more active in order to maintain or improve their health. A recent survey on aging showed that many seniors are optimistic about aging and expect their quality of life to improve. Why? Mostly because of advances in healthcare which will allow them to live more active and healthy lives.

Even with this positive outlook, baby boomers can become susceptible to certain conditions like tendonitis, tears, fractures and, of course, arthritis. Arthritis is taking its toll on knees in men, but some research suggests that women are outpacing them by a noticeable margin. Over the past decade, knee replacement surgeries have doubled. For women, that number has tripled for those between the ages of 45 and 64. In 2009, almost 63 percent of knee replacement patients between the ages of 40 and 80 were women.

Total knee replacement surgery involves removing the diseased parts of the knee joint and replacing them with new, artificial parts. The muscles, tendons and ligaments are left in place around the knee to provide stability for the new joint. An artificial joint is usually made of metal (cobalt-chrome or titanium) and polyethylene plastic and is affixed to existing bone with special cement or by "press fitting" which allows existing bone to grow into the new surface, locking it into place. Knee replacement has also become less invasive, which means shorter hospital stays, faster recovery, less pain and scarring and improved function.

There are other options in addition to knee replacement surgery. Other treatments may include exercise, physical therapy, knee sleeves and braces, topical ointments, injections and medications. Discuss with your physician which option is best for you.

Dr. Bruce Jones is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital. To learn more about your options and to attend a free class on advances in total knee replacement on March 7, 2013, call 314-542-4848 or register online .

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 24, 2013.