"Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching one."
Is this any truer than in triathlon where an entire year's work is frequently pointed at a single event? This blog is part two of two where we see if replacement of a worn out, arthritic joint in a triathlete will let them "get back in the game" as we hear so often on television.
"Sure, I know several triathletes besides me who've had their knees replaced." Chuck Graziano, Triathlete, TrainingBible Triathlon Coach
4.5 Million Americans Living with Total Knee Replacements
TKR surgeries have more than doubled over past decade
San Francisco, CA
New research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that more than 4.5 million Americans are living with a total knee replacement (TKR), as the number of TKR surgeries has more than doubled over the past decade, with the sharpest rise among younger patients. Osteoarthritis continues to be the primary reason for TKR.
Investigators used a computer model; U.S. Census data; information from the National Health Interview Survey, the Multi center Osteoarthritis Study and the Osteoarthritis Initiative; and other national data and literature to determine the number of Americans living with TKR.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, found that more than 4.5 million Americans are currently living with at least one TKR. This represents 4.7 percent of the population age 50 years or older – higher than the national rates for congestive heart failure and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition:
- The prevalence of osteoarthritis is higher in women and so is TKR: 5.3 percent, compared to 4.1 percent in men.
- Among persons age 60 to 69, 4.1 percent of men and 4.8 percent of women have a TKR; among those ages 70 to 79, 7.1 percent of men and 8.2 percent of women have had at least one knee replaced.
- Ten percent of Americans age 80 and older are living with a TKR.
Stephen Arata, PhD, at the University of Virginia preaches patience. "There are many with osteoarthritis of the knee that can put off something as complex as joint replacement if they simply step back for a moment and look at what they can do, not what they can't." He thinks more would delay having the surgery if they could simply look at the picture of both today and well into the future. "Many of the long term questions have yet to be answered." One definition of patience is "the capacity to endure waiting, or provocation without becoming angry or upset." Arata's teachings are spot on for 2016.
The findings above may aide in anticipating the future challenges related to TKR, including capacity for follow-up care, health care costs, and treatment access. Hopefully, both of us can delay a procedure such of this magnitude as long as practical.
The first triathlete I met with a total knee in place was during the marathon portion of the 1982 Ironman. (In those days it was the Bud Light Ironman Triathlon World Championship. It was the only one on earth. There were 969 competitors in the race program, Scott Tinley wearing #1. Guess what they served at the aid stations.) Not knowing any better, I was run/walking from 13 miles on in, with two other equally spent athletes. If you've never done it, there's more time than you realize to talk with your new found friends. For some reason, the subject of my service in Vietnam came up and one of my walking mates admitted to a gun shot wound to the knee with subsequent joint replacement. I was flabbergasted! I'd been taught that joint replacement was for the bocci set at the nursing home and here's this guy next to me with one...who's probably going to beat me! Well, maybe.
As you'd suspect, I've learned of many in our sport with artificial joints since.