Value in Knee Replacement: October 24, 2013

Time took a dramatic toll on both of Paula Kiessling’s knees. After living for years with bone-on-bone discomfort, it became too much to bear.

“The pain kept me up for years at night. Even rolling over, I was gone. From the second I woke up,” says Paula Kiessling, who underwent knee replacement.

After putting it off for years Kiessling recently underwent two joint replacement surgeries.

“You realize you don’t have the pain you had before, it’s like somebody waved a magic wand over you,” says Kiessling.

Dr. Ed Humbert, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff, was her surgeon.

“Knee replacement has its benefits. Eliminate pain, eliminate stiffness, gets you back to things you like to do,” says Dr. Humbert.

Now data from the CDC reveals additional benefits - financial ones. Factoring in the cost of missed work and the expense of pain medications and treatment, getting a timely knee replacement may result in a lifetime savings of $10,000 to $30,000 per patient.

“You’ll see patients that used to retire at 60 and 65, there’s people working now until they’re 70 and 75 and they’re needing to have these joints replaced to stay in the work force,” says Dr. Humbert.

Conservative measures are still the first course of action.

“We still try medications, we still try injections, we still try physical therapy, we try weight loss; we try everything we possibly can prior to surgery. And if surgery is your very last option, surgery is good to eliminate that problem,’ says Dr. Humbert.

“Anybody that’s worried about it or thinking they shouldn’t have it done - they really should. It’s very worthwhile. I’m not limited anymore,” says Kiessling.

The biggest savings, the one that counts, is restored quality of life.