A new study found blacks remain less likely than whites to undergo total knee replacement, an important intervention for reducing pain and improving physical function among those with disabling knee osteoarthritis. The study also found total knee replacements are increasing substantially in both populations. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the research underscores the need for healthcare providers and people of all races to take proactive measures in preventing and managing the disease.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used Medicare claims data from 2000 to 2006 to estimate the national and state-specific total knee replacements for blacks and whites among U.S. adults aged 65 and older.
The study found that among Medicare enrollees, the prevalence of total knee replacements increased by 58 percent overall. Despite the substantial increase in the rates of total knee replacements for both populations, total knee replacements among blacks was 37 percent lower than for whites in 2000, and remained virtually unchanged in 2006. In addition, the rates for total knee replacements were lowest among black men and highest among white women.
The Importance of Taking Action
According to the Arthritis Foundation, most Americans are unaware of the seriousness of arthritis and the impact it can have on their lives. Arthritis is the nation’s most common cause of disability and costs the U.S. economy more than $128 billion annually. Knee osteoarthritis, the most frequent form of lower extremity arthritis, contributes to 418,000 knee replacement procedures annually and in 2006 accounted for 496,000 hospital discharges and $19 billion in hospital costs.
“Nearly one in two adults may develop knee osteoarthritis over their lifetime, with an equal risk among blacks and whites,” said Patience White, MD, MA, chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation. “There are steps Americans can take now to prevent increasing disability from knee osteoarthritis and, if surgery becomes necessary, to better prepare themselves.”
Tips for Reducing Knee Pain
To reduce the pain and disability of arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation recommends the following:
1 “Weight Loss Reduces the Risk for Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis in Women,” David T. Felson, MD, MPH; Yuqing Zhang, MB, MPH; John M. Anthony, BA, BS; Allen Naimark, MD; and Jennifer J. Anderson, PhD, Annals of Internal Medicine, 1992; 116:535 539.
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