Thursday, November 20, 2008
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Total knee replacement not only improves knee mobility in older adults with severe osteoarthritis of the knee, it actually improves the overall level of physical functioning, new research indicates.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, causing pain, swelling and reduced motion of the joints. Its onset is frequently age-related and often affects the hands, knees, hips or spine.
Investigators from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, analyzed data for 259 adults with knee arthritis who had total knee replacement and 1,816 with knee arthritis who did not have knee replacement surgery.
According to Dr. Linda K. George and colleagues, physical functioning improvements after total knee replacement were "sizeable," while the no-treatment group showed declining levels of physical functioning.
The people who had knee replacement "improved significantly in 1 basic aspect of self care (bathing), 3 more difficult tasks (light housework, heavy housework, and shopping), and 2 advanced activities of daily living (walking 2 to 3 blocks and lifting weights up to 10 pounds)," the Duke team reports in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.
"In contrast, persons who did not have total knee arthroplasty exhibited overall patterns of decline in physical functioning," they note.
"Joint replacement," the investigators conclude, "is one likely way that medical care is contributing to declining rates of disability in the older population."
SOURCE: Arthritis and Rheumatism, October 2008.
So when older patients are considering a total knee replacement, one of the benefits to consider is an overall improvement in physical capacity and reduced disability.