600% Increase in Knee Replacements by 2030?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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knee replacement facts

A study posted by another physician popped up on Twitter the other night projecting that there will be a 600% increase in the number of total knee replacements performed by the year 2030!  I don’t agree, as this doesn’t take into account the quiet revolution occurring behind the scenes in the use of orthobiologics that will make metal, plastic, and ceramic knee replacement devices obsolete. However, the idea that there will be a 600% increase in severe knee arthritis is troubling. First, let’s start by going over some knee replacement facts…

What Is a Knee Replacement?

Unlike replacing a worn-out part in your car, and despite the TV commercials and marketing of knee replacements to a younger and more active audience, knee replacement is a massive surgery in which the natural knee joint is amputated and a metal and plastic prosthesis is inserted. It is also referred to as a total knee replacement (TKR) and a total knee arthroplasty, (TKA). The intention is admirable: to surgically remove a joint so arthritic and damaged that it is causing great pain and lack of function and to return the patient to the level of activity that preceded their arthritis. There are, however, several problems that arise because of the invasiveness of the procedure.

Knee Replacement Facts: Risks and Complications

Some things to consider from many different studies on knee replacement follow:

There is another issue. The major push by device manufacturers to push more product sales has caused a new problem: knee replacements are being performed on patients where the knee joint hasn’t been established as the cause of pain. Studies have estimated that one-third of knee replacements performed today are medically unnecessary as they are based on findings on X-ray and MRI that are incidental.  As a matter of fact, we would struggle to not find meniscus tears, cartilage damage, and arthritis in any middle-aged or older group of patients.

How can someone with knee pain and arthritis not need a knee replacement? The pain may be from somewhere else as most people who are middle-aged or older have something wrong with their knee on an MRI scan. These other things that cause knee pain include low back issues, SI joint dysfunction, and painful local tendons, muscles, ligaments and nerves. In these patients amputating the knee doesn’t do much good!

Other somber and well-known knee replacement risks include stroke, heart attack, and blood clots, and there’s the lesser known phenomenon of allergic patients having poorer results and more pain with knee replacement. If you’re considering this invasive surgery, check out “5 Knee Replacement Questions to Ask Before Surgery.”

The Study

The new study looked at strategies for the management of infection caused by knee replacement surgery. While the rate of serious infection was 2%, the projected number of infections by the year 2030 was 70,000! How did they get that number? They used a 2007 study that had concluded that based on the data from inpatient hospital stays and census data they had at the time, the number of knee replacements would increase by 600% by the year 2030!

The upshot? While there is an explosion in the number arthritis cases that are occurring, the knee-device manufacturers shouldn’t be licking their chops quite yet. I expect that we’ll see a decline in the total number of knee replacement surgeries that are performed by 2030. This will happen due to advances in interventional orthopedics and orthobiologics. While that’s a bummer for Wall Street betting on Stryker and Dupuy, it should be a huge win for patients!

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17 thoughts on “600% Increase in Knee Replacements by 2030?

  1. ELIZABETH WINSCH

    Is Regenexx effective for arthritis of the sacroiliac joint?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      ELIZABETH,
      Please see:http://www.regenexx.com/blog/si-joint-injection-side-effects/

  2. Bill

    Interested in stem cell but live in boston

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Bill,
      We don’t have a Regenexx Provider in Boston, but there ae several in the surrounding area. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/find-a-physician/

  3. Alan dunn

    I have been offered a Knee replacement on the NHS. U.K. But I don’t see the point as I only have Cartilage worn out on one joint I just want to try Stem Cell injection I know this is not an exact science yet But I feel it’s worth trying. problem is getting hard facts I.e does it take 1 injection or many getting the facts is like banging your head against a wall I feel it’s better than having your Leg cut in half and a peace of Metal hammered and glued into your bone

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Alan,
      Definitely understand your preference! It really depends on the individual situation. Most patients get a single treatment, some require additional treatment. Most patient responders who have severe knee arthritis do need booster shots at usually the 2-5 year time frame. There is a lot of information on the website. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com. If you have questions our team is very knowledgeable and can be reached at 888 525 3005. If you’d like to see if you’d be a good Candidate for a procedure, please submit the Candidate form.

  4. c christopher

    With all that is upcoming in natural and holistic medicine, the need for total knee replacements may be a thing of the past. I amlooking forward to holistiic, natural intervension. Alternative Medicine is coming and soon.

  5. Ted Strojny

    I understand your take on total knee replacement and agree with you. However, in some instances perhaps replacement is the best/only option. We’re all concerned with our individual situation. I injured my knees in sports/work almost 50 years ago and despite that have been very physically active over that time. But my right knee now is very valgus(no ACL) and the improper lines of force are affecting my biomechanics. Moving on my feet causes issues. Biking, and not being on my feet I have zero pain. I’ve recently done PRP with not really any noticeable difference (last treatment a little over a month ago), but the knees are not a candidate for stem cell. Both knees are bone on bone etc.,(but I continue to work on strengthening the muscles, I’m somewhat of a weight training/bodybuilding fanatic over the last 40 yrs) and have seen an ortho surgeon for the past 7 years. I can’t see my valgus knee improving and I’m pushing 70. My other knee is arthritic, but straight. I’ve sworn I’d never get a replacement even prior to learning about Regenexx, but after seeing the surgeon again last week, i don’t know if I have any other options other than a total knee replacement? Any suggestions?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Ted,
      There are cases where knee replacement is needed. The point is just that fixing original equipment is the better option until all other options fail. Suggestions: Avoid steroid shots and NSAIDS, get on a good supplement regimen, and get an MRI of your right knee to upload. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/prp-didnt-work/

      1. Ted Strojny

        Thanks so much for the feedback. I’ve never used steroids or any NSAIDS. I’ve had an MRI and take more supplements than 10 people combined. The MRI showed that the MCL was intact, but no ACL. PCL likely has a tear, along with a multitude of other abnormalities, including loose bodies. The dr. who did the PRP was one of the pioneers of this, has been doing this for years, his expertise was unquestionable. I found him through the REGENEXX web page. I’ve recently been seeing a chiropractor and using some foot/arch inserts that seem to straighten my leg, perhaps enough to keep surgery at bay for a while. Thanks.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Ted,

          Sounds like you’re doing everything right, hoping the very best for you!

  6. Sharon Hobt

    The bundled payment system for joint replacement will have physician’s looking at stem cell treatment. My orthopedic surgeon and his group have started the stem cell procedures.

    Tarpon Springs, Florida

  7. Lynne Hagmann

    What can we do (as private citizens) to move stem cell replacement from being experimental to being an “approved” procedure that is covered by insurance?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Lynne,
      It’s a process that will take time and I’m not sure there is a way to speed Insurance coverage up other than to continue to do and publish the research on our end, and on the patient side make it known to your insurers, that it will save them money! Tomorrow’s blog, explains more…

  8. John

    Hello,
    Been a jogger for years now but have a left knee getting soft due to worn meniscus. No arthritis at all. Ive seen the standing X-rays and looks like if there could be away to just add to the meniscus layer the problem would be fixed! Is this possible from regenexx, to regrow the meniscus? Knee replacement surgery scares me!
    Thanks John

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      John,
      When the menisuscus is worn, instability often results, so tightening up lax ligaments, as well as treating the meniscus itself often helps. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/meniscus-tears/ We’ll give you a call…

    2. Chris Centeno Post author

      John, we have seen a bigger meniscus size with our culture expanded procedure, now only performed via the Cayman licensed site. Others have published on this as well. The effect isn’t reliable (i.e. happens in some patients and not others).

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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