Walk this way!

A PR person representing leading orthopedics maker Smith & Nephew sent me an email entitled, “Do Your Readers Need a Knee Replacement?” It contained five questions designed to help consumers figure out if they need a new knee. (See below.)

Medical device companies are following the pharmaceutical company model of direct to consumer advertising. If Smith & Nephew’s approach is typical, the industry has a long way to go. This particular questionnaire struck me as a ham-handed approach that’s likely to be dismissed by prospective patients as patently self-serving.

I think the company would do better to drop questions 2 through 4 and expand question 1 to ask people to rate their pain level and describe different aspects of it. Patients could then speak to their doctor about the results.

Here’s the list of questions:

Five Questions to Determine if You Need a Knee Replacement

1.       I’ve had knee pain for awhile, but how do I know if the pain is something serious like arthritis?
The best way to determine whether you’re suffering from arthritis is to consult your doctor about the cause of your pain.  Be sure to describe the type, frequency and level of the pain.

In the meantime, you can research your options for potential knee replacements and discuss with other patients who have had the surgery done.  You can also read about the benefits of and risks associated with knee replacements.

2.       I’m in my 50s but I have chronic knee pain.  If I need a knee replacement, what’s the earliest age I can get one?
The good news is that knee replacement technologies have come a long way and are increasingly available for younger patients.  For example, LEGION CR Knee with VERILAST technology from Smith & Nephew is expected to provide wear performance sufficient for 30 years of actual use under typical conditions.  Consequently, patients don’t have to wait until they’re 65, which has been the traditional age for knee replacements, to return to an active lifestyle.

3.       What are the benefits of knee replacement?
Knee replacement surgery is intended to relieve knee pain and improve knee function.  With improved knee functionality, patients can begin to regain their active lifestyles.

4.       Are there risks associated with knee replacement surgery?
As with any surgery, there are risks involved.  The potential risks associated with knee replacements are loosening, fracturing, dislocation, wear and infection that may result in the need for additional surgery.

5.       Why are knee replacements available for younger patients now?
Until now, scientific literature has indicated that knee replacements should be expected to last 10 to 15 years before implant wear becomes an issue.  Wear occurs when the surfaces of the implants rub together and tiny fragments of plastic and metal material wear off.

October 1, 2010

One thought on “Walk this way!”

  1. “This particular questionnaire struck me as a ham-handed approach that’s likely to be dismissed by prospective patients as patently self-serving.” Agreed. Perhaps their questions should be geared towards asking if the patient has tried conservative treatments which were unsuccessful, like physical therapy. Also if the knee condition isn’t severe, an orthopedist might initially want to perform an arthroscopic surgery before even considering a total knee replacement.

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