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Knee Replacement Surgery Improves Quality of Life for Seniors

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests total knee replacement for elders can improve quality of life that goes beyond pain relief. Total knee replacement surgery for arthritis improved quality of life for seniors studied one year after surgery was performed.

Osteoporosis that causes significant pain and problems with balance in elders can lead to falls, serious injury and hospitalization. Orthopedic surgeon and study author Leonid Kandel, MD, Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel explains, "Balance is critical to the elderly, especially those with knee problems. This study reinforced our hypothesis about how an osteoarthritic patient's function is compromised not only due to pain, but also by balance."

Measurements of dynamic and functional balance improved in patients who underwent total knee replacement surgery that can protect elders from falls and hip fracture that could be physically and economically lethal.

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Sixty three patients who had total knee replacement were followed for one year to measure improvements in balance, pain, and quality of life one year after total knee replacement. The findings that measured static and dynamic balance with a novel computerized system called the Balance Master showed significant improvements in both balance measures.

Seniors who had total knee replacement experience improved balance as well as increased ability to perform activities - the strongest association for improved balance, mobility, and quality of life was from balance versus improvements in pain one year later.

Dr. Kandel says, "We are learning that pain relief may not be the only benefit that improves function after knee replacement. This improved balance is a significant quality-of-life change in elderly patients."

Osteoporosis occurs when the knee cartilage wears down. Cartilage is important to cushion and protect the joints from pain and inflammation. Total knee replacement is performed by removing bones and replacing them with metal and plastic. Knee replacement surgery is now found to improve balance and quality of life for elders, an added benefit that goes beyond pain relief. The findings are presented at the 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons