WORCESTER, Mass. (CBS Connecticut) – According to a new study, obesity rates among people under 65 may be the main reason knee replacements are rapidly increasing.

Researchers say their findings “dispel the popular belief that aging baby boomers and weekend warriors are behind the unprecedented rise in knee replacement surgeries.”

“Our study shows that younger patients are more obese and experience the same amount of pain and functional disability as older patients and in some cases even more,” Dr. David Ayers, the study’s author and the director of the Musculoskeletal Center of Excellence at the University of Massachusetts Medical School stated in a press release.

Researchers examined data from 9,000 patients who had knee replacements by over 125 orthopedic surgeons across 22 states. They determined that 55 percent of patients younger than 65 were obese.

The study also revealed that the younger group of patients had a higher rate of smoking and lower mental health scores.

“What was once thought of as a procedure for older people or those with sporting injuries is changing,” Ayers stated.  “What we’re seeing is that the rise in obesity rates in younger people is having a dramatic influence on the number of total joint replacement surgeries. These are not premature or unnecessary procedures.”

The study was presented at a recent meeting of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals in San Diego but has not been published.

“Unless we see a significant reduction in obesity, we will continue to see the necessity for more and more of these procedures,” Ayers added.


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