How Joint Disease Impacts Seniors

By the year 2020, an estimated 20% of the entire population of the country will be considered seniors at age 65 years or older. Of that number, between 40 and 60 percent will develop osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. In Los Angeles alone, the number of seniors is expected to grow three times as fast in the next 20 years in comparison to the same number of years previously so that the number of people over 65 years of age will be doubled by 2030. This change in dynamics is also expected to increase the number of people who will be looking for an orthopedic surgeon to treat joint disease that is so common in those over the age of 65.

Osteoporosis occurs more often in older women, causing them to be more susceptible to fractures of the vertebra while also causing pain. It is the most common kind of bone disease and it is caused primarily by genetics. People who don’t get enough calcium or vitamin D are also at a greater risk, as are those who smoke or who have had certain childhood or adult diseases. A decrease in estrogen and testosterone in women and men are also causes of bone loss. Most people who see an orthopedic surgeon for symptoms of osteoarthritis are over the age of 55.

When osteoarthritis occurs, it affects the entire joint, including the cartilage, ligaments and the bone underneath. Most often, the knees and hips are affected and sometimes the condition occurs in the spine and hands. One of the reasons seniors are at a greater risk of injuries from falling is the changes to their gait, loss of balance, and instability that occur as part of the aging process. Osteoarthritis causes bones to be more brittle and prone to fracture so that a fall can have more devastating results that when they occur to a younger person.

Most Common Orthopedic Procedures Performed on Seniors

Joint replacement surgery is one of the most common procedures performed on seniors today. When the individual is experiencing pain and a loss of mobility from their hip or knee as a result of osteoarthritis, a surgical procedure to remove the old joint and replace it with a mechanical device can give them relief. As the number of elderly in this country continues to rise, so will the number of seniors who have this disease. For those with severe cases, physical therapy and drugs can provide only limited relief. When an orthopedic surgeon performs joint replacement surgery on the affected patient, they may be successful at reliving pain and restoring function.

Today, finding an orthopedic surgeon in LA is not difficult. However, it is important to find one who evaluates each patient on a person-by-person level and who offers procedures such as joint replacement surgery to those seniors who can benefit from it the most. As the demand for orthopedic surgeons continues to increase in the future, patients should consider the experience and reputation of any specialist they entrust with their health.