Should you consider a new profession then an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in knee replacements could be a very good idea. Consider the facts:
There was an extraordinary 400% increase in the number of total knee replacements from 1971 to 2003 as compared to an increase of (only) 55% in the number of hip replacements in the same period!
The number of primary knee replacements are expected to increase nearly 8 times from 450,000 to 3.48 million by 2030! But that is not all. An increasing number of the artificial joints will have to be replaced or “revised”. From 2005 to 2030 it is estimated that the increase in revisions of total knee replacements will come to an amazing 600% compared to hip replacement revisions of (only) 137%! (Renaissance Orthopaedics Jan. 2008).
More and more younger patients are involved. In 1999, 30% of knee replacements were for those under 65. In 2008 the number was already 41%. There is a higher rate of failure and earlier revisions in younger patients. (Am. Acad. Orth. Surg. Now April 2012). After only 5 years, 8% of the replacements in the under 55 age group had failed! (Acta Orthop. 81(4):413 2010).
What are we doing to our knees? Overweight and obesity obviously put more strain on the knees. But population growth and obesity cannot explain the rapid growth of total knee replacements in the last decade ( J. Bone Joint Surg. 94(3):201 2012). The major causes seem uncertain.
Almost certain seems to be the expected shortfall of orthopaedic surgeons which is projected to be so dramatic that by 2016, 72% of those patients that require total knee replacements will, (in the US), be unable to obtain them! (AAOS Ann. Meeting 2009)