As the enormous baby boomer generation enters its golden years, the rise in knee and hip replacement surgeries has been nothing short of astonishing. Well over a million of these procedures are performed by orthopedic surgeons each year in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers are only expected to rise as the most active group of seniors in the nation’s history refuses to go quietly into old age.
If you are considering hip or knee replacement surgery, the first and most important step you must take is to find an accomplished orthopedist in your area. Because these procedures are extremely popular right now, you will want to begin your search as soon as possible.
Qualified Orthopedic Surgeons
Since he or she likely knows your body better than you do, your personal physician should be the first person you consult if you are thinking about surgery. Not only do you need his or her referral to see orthopedic surgeons, but your doctor can also recommend specialists that have an agreement with your health care provider to treat patients at special, reduced rates. You can also ask for suggestions from friends and co-workers who have had the surgery — and you may be surprised at the great number!
In addition to examining their educational background (medical degrees, training, certifications, etc.), you should find out how many procedures each specialist on your list personally performs each year. Keep in mind that many orthopedic surgeons work in practices with other doctors, which means that they may not handle your knee or hip replacement themselves.
Although all orthopedists are trained to perform knee and hip replacements, if they do not specialize in either procedure, they may not have completed many of them. Because the knowledge, training, and technology is always evolving about specific procedures, you want a doctor who spends most of his or her time studying and practicing the operation you require. While there is no average number, it is safe to say that an experienced practitioner should have completed dozens of replacements.
Meet With The MD
Most orthopedic surgeons offer free consultations, which you should take full advantage of to help you find the right fit. Although the doctor will likely do most of the talking, you will need to procure information about the history of your knee or hip, including prior injuries, operations, etc. You may also come equipped with a list of questions you wish to ask. Because joint replacement can be quite costly and insurance may not cover all of the bills, you will want to compare prices.