The alarming cost of joint replacements highlighted in new study

A new study has predicted a rise in knee and hip replacement surgeries in Australia in the coming years. Source: Getty

More Aussies will go under the knife for medical procedures in coming years, with new research highlighting the shocking rise in costs of knee and hip replacements around the country.

A new study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders has found the surgeries for osteoarthritis (OA) are expected to climb by up to 276 per cent by 2030, costing Australia’s health care system over $5 billion.

Data from the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry (AOANJRR) indicated people over the age of 40 will be more likely to undergo surgery due to the ever increasing ageing population and the country’s obesity problem.

The amount of knee replacement procedures for OA are expected to increase from 42,920 surgeries in 2013 t0 a whopping 161, 231 in 2030. Meanwhile, hip replacement procedures have been predicted to rise from 25,945 surgeries to 79,795 in the same time frame.

Both procedures are considered cost-effective options for patients with end stage arthritis and numerous studies have demonstrated decreased pain, improved function and better quality of life following joint replacement.

Read more: Yoga could reduce severity of rheumatoid arthritis: Study

However, study author Ilana Ackerman, from Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine said the findings have raised concerns about the country’s capacity to meet future national demand for the particular surgeries.

He claimed if surgery trends for osteoarthritis continue, Australia will face significant health budget and health workforce implications.

“These results provide a strong policy and public health argument for supporting weight loss campaigns and interventions,” he said in a statement. “Strategies to reduce national obesity could produce important knee replacement savings.”

Shockingly, the proportion of Australian adults who are overweight or obese is anticipated to exceed 70 per cent by 2030, resulting in an extra 25,000 knee replacement surgeries, costing an additional $521 million.

However, if the obesity levels in Australia are reduced by just 5 per cent, there could be up to 8,062 procedures – saving $170 million.

“In order to meet joint replacement demand in 2030 and beyond, investment in prevention programs designed to limit obesity and other causes associated with hip and knee burden in Australia demands serious consideration,” Ackerman added.

Co-author and AOANJRR Deputy Director Richard de Steiger echoed his concerns, claiming meeting the large growth in surgical demand will also prove challenging for Australia due to pressures on the surgical workforce and health budgets.

“Careful planning is needed to manage the impact of the expected rise in hip and knee replacements on the surgical workforce, operating theatre wait-times, and the pressure on hospital administration,” he explained.

Read more: Osteoarthritis breakthrough: Researchers discover genes linked to disease

“Maintaining patient access to these procedures to enable improved quality of life and reduced pain is essential.”

Have you undergone hip or knee replacement surgery?


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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