Knee replacements may not be as reliable as previously thought

Evidence for the efficacy of knee replacement surgery is shakier than ever. New research from experts at Oxford University reveals that there is insufficient long-term data demonstrating the efficacy and reliability of knee replacements. This comes at a time when the number of middle-aged people undergoing knee replacement surgery has increased dramatically in the past decade.

Researchers of the new study reviewed data from several national registries. Since this data primarily consists of statistics on the number of surgeries and redo surgeries, the researchers pointed out that there is no significant data on patients long-term satisfaction with knee replacements, or information on whether patients continued to experience pain and disability. They also discovered that many patients who received surgery may not have needed in the first place since they were young or only exhibited mild symptoms.

Currently, there are dozens of knee replacement designs on the market. When problems arise with a specific design, physicians typically cease using the model and the company may pull it from the market. However, researchers pointed out that doctors often assume that newer designs will automatically be better despite that there is insufficient data on the products. Unlike medicine, joint replacements do not need to undergo the same process of research and regulation before entering the market.

In addition to making recommendations on ways to improve research and regulation of knee replacements, researchers concluded that there needs to be “better management of young people with early arthritis” to avoid the need for surgery.

If you’re under the age of 55 with knee osteoarthritis, early conservative treatment could help you avoid the potential risks and costs of joint replacement surgery. In addition to weight loss and exercise, chiropractic care can improve joint functioning and relieve knee pain from osteoarthritis.


“Knee Replacements Up Dramatically Among Adults 45 to 64 Years Old.” Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. November 3, 2011. Accessed January 2, 2012. .

Carr A, Robertsson O, Graves S, et al. Knee replacement. The Lancet 2012; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60752-6.

Gever, John. “Knee Replacement Outcome Data Fall Short.” Medpage Today. March 5, 2012. Accessed March 13,2012.