Relief for Joints Besieged by Arthritis

The New York Times

By JANE E. BRODY

If you live long enough — that is, beyond 50 or 60 — chances are one or more of your joints, probably your knees or hips, will become arthritic. And if pain or stiffness begin to seriously limit your ability to enjoy life and perform routine tasks, chances are you’ll consider replacing the troublesome joint.

“People with osteoarthritis are relying more and more heavily on surgery,” Dr. David T. Felson, a rheumatologist and epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine, told me. “The rate of knee replacement is just skyrocketing, out of proportion to increases in arthritic changes seen on X-rays, and replacement surgery is contributing greatly to the rising costs of Medicare.”

Between 1979 and 2002, knee replacement surgery rose 800 percent among people 65 and older. Although more…