Joint Replacements For Boomers
In the last decade, the number of baby boomers needing knee replacement surgeries has more than tripled. It’s a similar trend with hips surgeries. Growing obesity rates may be one reason, but ironically, people trying to stay fit and pounding their bones and joints is also a big factor.
Dr. Nicolas DiNubile, a surgeon based outside of Philidelphia calls this phenomenon “boomeritis” or “fix-me-itis”—because people in the 46-to-64 age range look at joint surgery as a right of passage. In 1997, 264,311 knee surgeries were performed in this age group—in 2009, the numbers skyrocketed to 621,029. DiNubile, who isalso an adviser to several pro athletic groups and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, explains that the boomer generation is the first to really try and stay active despite their aging frames, and are far less likely to put up with pain in comparison to their grandparents. They don’t want to buy a cane or succumb to a brace or walker—they want a surgical fix.
The media contributes to this state of mind, as different types of joint replacements surgeries are advertised on TV. Tennis star Billie Jean King promotes the 30-year Smith & Nephew knees she had put in last year. “I wanted to make sure whatever they put in me was going to last," she said. “I'm not trying to win Wimbledon anymore. I'm trying to get my exercise in.”