Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aging Baby Boomers Cause Steep Rise in Number of Knee Replacements

Just ran across an article on Yahoo, entitled "As Baby Boomers Age, Knee Replacement Surgery Numbers Soar". According to the article, a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed an increase of 161.5% in the number of knee replacements in the US from 1991 through 2010.

The author of the article expressed concern about the systemic cost of all these surgeries, pegging it at $3.2 billion over the study period of 20 years. I would express concern -- and raise questions -- about the need for them.

I have known a number of people who had knee replacements. One man developed an antibiotic resistant infection in his knee after the surgery, and suffered greatly from it. Another man also developed an infection and was treated with an antibiotic that destroyed his kidney and sense of balance. Still others told me that the rehabilitation afterwards was long and excruciatingly painful. Here are a few excerpts from comments to the UK National Health Services information page on "Knee Replacement Risks":
I have exchanged one form of discomfort for another and in the main, my untreated knee is less bothersome than the one that was replaced.
12 months later I am in considerable pain the knee works ok with good movement in excess of 90 degrees, the quad muscles are strong, but I have lots of pain on the inside of the knee, not sure if this is scar tissue but if it is will it get better? can I do anything to improve it? ... what can I do to get my life back? I am 57 years young.
I had a TKR on 26th April 2011 and was discharged from hospital 7 days later. 3 days after this I was readmitted with suspected wound infection and kept in for another 5 days... I was sent home, in more pain than on the first discharge. 10 days later and in excruciating pain I was readmitted for a third time for manipulation under anaesthetic. I was discharged 48 hours later with the pain level increasing by the day ... It is now 8 weeks since my operation, I am in considerable pain, and am still hobbling around with a stick. This is the very worst thing to happen to me and I wish I had never agreed to the operation - I am in far worse pain now than ever before ... How much longer will I have to suffer like this?
Patients are advised of the risks -- as in this PDF, which lists thrombosis (blood clots), infection, knee stiffness, nerve damage, ligament and tendon tears, bone fracture, and "implant related complications" as talking points that patients need to discuss with their doctors prior to surgery. Another talking point is the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine which found that people over 60 were thirty times more likely to have a heart attack within 2 weeks of the surgery than people of the same age and gender who did not undergo a knee replacement.

To be sure, the surgery is said to have a 90% success rate, which may be of little comfort to the 10% for whom it doesn't work. On the whole it is invasive, drastic, and has an unpleasant recovery period lasting many months. For those whose medical and physiotherapy bills are not covered, it can also be quite expensive. But the people who decide to have the surgery do so because they are suffering, and because they believe that this is the only way their suffering can be lessened.

Not so. Bioenergy therapies are another way. Not invasive. Not painful. And potentially quite effective. I know of people scheduled for knee surgery who did not need to have the surgery after they received bioenergy treatments. I've seen a heavy set man kneel on the floor and jump up from that kneeling position shouting "look what I can do!" after a Domancic bioenergy clinic lasting four days. I've seen pain reduced and mobility increased significantly as a long-term proposition. At the very least, even in cases where the deterioration cannot be stopped, the day that the knee replacement is needed can be pushed farther into the future. And in Canada especially, where wait times for surgery are long, it makes sense to look at alternative means of pain control instead of suffering in silence.

I am not claiming that bioenergy therapies are the best or only option for everyone under all conditions. But I am saying that they are well worth looking at before taking the drastic, risky, and painful final step of having one's knee joint replaced altogether, and living with the consequences.

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