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Replacing Worn-Out Parts: Total Joint Replacement Becomes Growing Epidemic In Younger Generation

Nov 24, 2008

Contact: Catherine Gianaro
(773) 564-7285

Chicago resident Terry Tuohy loved to dance, but chronic knee pain made it hard for her to walk up stairs, let alone swing dance at weddings. Knowing she couldn’t dance at events, she would simply leave the room. Tuohy has had six surgeries on her knees since age 22; but at the age of 48 and with the urging of her doctor, she finally decided it was time for a total knee replacement.

“Terry is a classic case of who we’re seeing more and more of now – active Baby Boomers who have overused their knees and hips at a young age,” said Henry Finn, M.D., chief of orthopedic surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital, medical director of Joint University and the University of Chicago Bone and Joint Replacement Center at Weiss, and professor of surgery at the U of C. “An increasing number of 40-year-olds, and even 30-somethings, are coming in with worn-out parts.”

With an aging population more active and more overweight, new hips and knees are required at younger ages. No longer is total joint replacement reserved only for those in their 60s and 70s. The trend will be more evident in the years to come as the number of these procedures skyrocket.

In 2007, there were 426,000 total joint replacements in the United States. A report from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shows by the year 2030 the number of total knee replacements performed in the United States will reach 3.48 million—a 637 percent jump. The number of hip replacements will increase to 572,000, or by 174 percent.

“People expect a better quality of life than living with joint pain,” Finn said. ”The advances in today’s technology and care enable patients to live with replacement devices that can last a lifetime.”

Hospitals like Weiss Memorial in Chicago have created a special program dedicated to total joint replacement patients to address their needs. Joint University’s unique approach focuses on the patient experience by providing an environment that emphasizes wellness and maximizes rapid-recovery efforts through education, a culture of early mobility, family involvement and group interaction.

“As the average age skews younger for total joint replacement, patients are demanding dedicated programs with experienced surgeons,” Finn said.

Total joint replacement is a growing epidemic in America, and Weiss’ Joint University is responding to the call for treating joint pain, performing about 400 total joint replacements in the past year—the most such procedures of any community hospital in Chicago.

For Tuohy, she has her life back with her total knee replacement. “I can do anything now,” Tuohy said. “I can walk up steps, dance and even chase my niece around. I am living the active life I thought I lost.”

For more information on Joint University at Weiss Memorial Hospital, visit or call (773) 564-5680.