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Osteoarthritic Women Put Off Knee Surgery

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Osteoarthritic Women Put Off Knee Surgery

Osteoarthritic Women Put Off Knee Surgery

May 15, 2008

By: Beth Walsh for Knee1

Women with osteoarthritis of the knee put off knee replacement surgery longer than men do, according to research conducted at the University of Delaware. Unfortunately, those delays can result in poorer post-operative outcomes for women.

Of course it isn’t good to rush in to surgical procedures, either, but when the appropriate patients delay knee replacement, their knees can get stiff and develop a deformity.
Quick Tips & Fast Facts on Osteoarthritis:
Ostoearthritis rarely affect people under 40. Women are more likely to develop the condition. Joint injuries can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Those who are overweight put more stress on their weight-bearing joints, such as knees, which can lead to osteoarthritis.

If you have swelling or stiffness in your joints that lasts for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If you're already taking medication for osteoarthritis, contact your doctor if you're experiencing side effects from arthritis medications. Tell your doctor if you experience side effects such as nausea, abdominal discomfort, black or tarry stools, constipation, or drowsiness.

Treatment ranges from resting the affected joint(s) and applying heat or cold to working with a physical therapist to surgical procedures for more advanced cases of osteoarthritis. Work with your physician to develop a treatment plan appropriate for your lifestyle.

Historically, doctors have told patients to put off knee replacement until they can no longer stand the pain. Research shows that that advice is particularly bad for women. The level of function prior to surgery directly relates to level of function post-surgery.

At the University of Delaware’s Physical Therapy Clinic, 229 candidates for total knee replacement were evaluated and compared with 44 healthy men and women who matched them in gender, age and body-mass index. Test results showed that the women replacement candidates had a much greater degree of physical disability. Researchers said that the women all had painful, end-stage osteoarthritis, where the cartilage cushioning the knee bones is completely deteriorated.

Physicians used to tell patients to wait as long as possible to undergo knee replacement therapy because the theory was that one replacement procedure would last the rest of their life. In fact, even the best replacements last just 10 to 15 years and seven percent fail within 15 years. Of the 300,000 total knee replacements performed on Americans each year, two-thirds are performed on women.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Among the more than 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting over 20 million people in the United States. Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently as we age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After age 55, it occurs more frequently in females.

Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Most cases of osteoarthritis have no known cause and are referred to as primary osteoarthritis.

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