Knee Arthritis Increasing in Baby Boomers: Expected Problems & Solutions Essay

Knee Arthritis Increasing in Baby Boomers:  Expected Problems & Solutions

            Chronic illnesses are those that set in gradually and do not easily go away.  Thus, they require a longer-term approach – a total approach that includes in a consistent basis the “early diagnosis, patient education, lifestyle change, home monitoring, and the prevention of severe crisis.”  (Institute for the Future, 2003, p. 279).   While the attention and resources of the medical industry of America has been zeroing in all these years on the cure and treatment of acute diseases, more and more studies have been pointing out the fact that it is high time for the treatment and cure of chronic diseases to be the main agenda of the government and the medical professional society.

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            The fact that this medical concern is affecting the baby boomers means that almost all families in America presently have at least one member who is suffering from knee arthritis.  Furthermore, the glaring reality of chronic illnesses being not instantly cured or treated through a fast, high-technology treatment or gadget of sorts brings home the urgent call for the medical society to be well-prepared to give timely and regular treatments and to conduct the needed procedures that can effectively lessen, if not totally remove, the pain in the knees of the patients.    The government, in turn, should be ready to give the medical society ample support and ammunition to see to the chronically ill of the society.

            Acute diseases are not anymore the culprit for most deaths in the United States.  For the past years, chronic illnesses have been behind almost 70 percent of all deaths in the United States.  In the year 2000, heart disease, cancer, and strokes were responsible for 59 percent of all deaths.  Moreover, the number of people living with chronic conditions is expected to increase in the next decade, reaching 157 million by 2020.  (Institute for the Future, 2003, p. 279).

            It surprised me to learn from this book that our country seems to be not capable of providing adequate care of these people with chronic illnesses.  Indeed, it is hard to believe that the great nation that America is known to be is actually ill-prepared to provide competent health care systems for its constituents.  It is not that there are no efforts exerted to remedy the situation.  There are current attempts to address the problem, but these individual efforts happen to be “diffuse and uncoordinated,” thus rendering little or no impact at all.  (Institute for the Future, 2003, p. 279).

            On the subject of the rife occurrence of chronic illnesses in the country today, an article at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) website states that knee arthritis is one chronic illness that is now catching up to the youngest baby boomers – those in their 40s and 50s.  Medical data has shown that the prevalence of knee arthritis in people increases with age and that those with higher body mass indexes – including a significant portion of 50- to 70-year-old baby boomers – are more prone to developing arthritis in the knee.  With the baby boomers in their big numbers becoming likely to develop knee arthritis at this time of the 21st century, the medical society have been exploring treatment options for knee arthritis “such as total knee arthroplasty (TKA), surgical and nonsurgical treatments for tibial-femoral and patella-femoral arthritis, and unincompartmental arthroplasty.    With TKA proving to provide the best relief for patients with knee arthritis, “a recent study projected a 673 percent increase in the demand for primary TKA by 2030 – a figure that translates to 3.48 million procedures.”  (McKee, 2008)  The doctors have to be ready for these numbers.  This article similarly discusses the problem regarding the growing numbers of baby boomers with knee arthritis, presents TKA as the recommended solution, but gives no conclusive statement about the problem being solved.

            In search of a published material regarding the needed solution, I came across an article which speculates on a healthy way to keep knee arthritis at bay.  It says that while there are no quick cures for chronic illnesses such as knee arthritis, people who stick to diets with plenty of antioxidants “may be protecting themselves from bone changes associated with knee arthritis.” (Medical News Today)  Thus, this article simply provides yet another reason for people to go for a healthy diet as part of their regular lifestyle.

            Meanwhile, if conservative options to see to a patient’s knee arthritis fail to control the pain or instability it causes, surgical treatment is next recommended.  A journal article entitled, “Surgical Treatment of Knee Arthritis” names the surgical treatment options available for patients with worsening knee arthritis, as follows:  “arthroscopy for osteoarthritis of the knee, synovectomy of the knee, osteotomy, unicondylar arthrosplasty, total knee arthroplasty and other medical alternatives such as knee fusion, cartilage implantation, and allograft resurfacing of the arthritic knee.”   (CCS Publishing, 2008).    It is heartening to learn that such alternatives are available, and knowing this leads me back to the dilemma concerning inadequate medical care services provided to our country’s baby boomers.

            Chronic illnesses do not go away as soon as proper treatment has been provided to the patient.  Chronic illnesses are there to stay for as long as the patients do not take care of themselves and stick to the healthy rules designed for their specific conditions.  In this sense, knee arthritis and other chronic diseases that ail the baby boomers and the aging society as a whole should be combated against by the entire society – both the government and the private sector – by means of procedures consistently carried out to help the affected people, especially those in their respective circles of families and friends.

            There will always be health rules for people with chronic illnesses to live by.  The young and healthy ones should find time to check on them.  With the ill baby boomers having to be on the lookout for things and habits that will aggravate their condition, the support of their family and friends can make it a lot easier for them.  Ensuring that they eat right, finding time to take walks with them and encouraging them to make exercises a part of their regular routine, seeing to it that they get enough sleep, and simply taking time to talk with them will keep them safe from arthritis attacks and other health threats.

            The community, as a whole, can install systems to educate everybody about the causes of chronic illnesses and the things to do for the members, especially the older ones, to be spared from these deadly health setbacks.  Well-oriented and enlightened people have much better chances of staying healthy.  Chronic illnesses are products of years of bad habits and unhealthy practices.  Healthy people living in a healthy environment, therefore, are less prone to chronic illnesses like knee arthritis – even when they have become old and wrinkled.

            The government should also be made to entitle its sick constituents to better health care systems and more available health care people to attend to their needs.  The baby boomers, in particular, are people who have been behind the great economic progress that the country has known and the unparalleled industrial growth that has made America the world power that it is now.  Now that they are nearing their retirement years, the government should deign to provide them a better set-up for one vital concern of theirs at this time of their life – their health.

            If everybody – both the public and private sectors of the society – will be driven to contribute to the health and welfare of the baby boomers and, ultimately, of the people belonging to all other generations, then the “Sunny Side of the Street” is the outcome that can be expected for 2010 and thereafter.

References

Institute for the Future.  (2003).  Health and Health Care 2010:  The Future Forecast, The        Challenge (2nd Edition).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass, Wiley Publishing.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2008 July) Knee Arthritis in Boomers:  A           Growing Problem by Jennie McKee. Retrieved August 1, 2008, from             http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/jul08/cover2.asp.

Institute for the Future.  (2003).  Health and Health Care 2010:  The Future Forecast, The        Challenge (2nd Edition).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass, Wiley Publishing.

Medical News Today.  (July 25, 2007).  Antioxidants May Protect Against Knee Arthritis.           MediLexicon International Ltd. Retrieved August 1, 2008, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/77673.php.

CCS Publishing.  Surgical Treatment of Knee Arthritis.  CCS Publishing.  Retrieved August 1,   2008, from http://www.ccspublishing.com/journals2a/knee_surgery.htm.