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With a whole generation of baby boomers and fitness fanatics creeping into their twilight years, diseases that reflect the wear and tear of a crazy, active youth are skyrocketing. Arthritis, for example, is an extremely prevalent condition, with approximately 47 million people in the United States suffering from some form of arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Osteoarthritis, degeneration of the bony surfaces within a joint, affects around 21 million adults (more than 50% of whom are over 65), while rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, afflicts over 2 million people.
While arthritis pain is by no means a given as you get older, trauma inflicted on joints over time can pretty much guarantee some degree of stiffness, swelling, pain, or degeneration as the years pass. If efforts such as medication, supplements, accupuncture, therapeutic exercise, and lifestyle changes fail to ease arthritis pain, joint replacement surgery (known as arthroplasty) is the medical solution of choice. In an arthroplasty, the worn-down joint surfaces are removed and replaced with plastic or metal prostheses. Due to the availability of innovative surgical techniques and the rise of aging, active Americans, the number of joint replacement surgeries performed has increased tremendously in the last decade. From 1997 to 2005, over 500,000 total knee replacement surgeries and nearly 300,000 hip replacement surgeries were performed, and experts estimate that this number will continue to rise.