Our bodies are amazing creations. The bones, muscles, nerves and organs work together in harmony to keep us breathing, digesting and moving seamlessly. Sometimes, though, that harmony isn’t so perfect. Conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis, or serious injuries, can mean that we need to replace one of our original parts with a man-made medical device.
As our population ages, such replacement surgeries are becoming more and more common, particularly involving knees and hips, two of the most often used joints that also bear the majority of our weight. Many people who undergo total knee or hip replacements (or less invasive procedures like hip resurfacing or partial replacements) successfully recover from the surgery and go on to live active lifestyles with much less pain than before.
Others aren’t so lucky, though. In recent years, there have been massive recalls of knee and hip replacement products as studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that these faulty devices are doing much more harm than good when implanted in patients’ bodies.
Common surgeries, uncommon results
Knee and hip replacement procedures are very common. Dr. David Ayers, Chief of Orthopedics at the University of Massachusetts, reports that there are about 1 million knee replacements each year in the U.S. That number is expected to triple in the next 15 years. Hip replacements aren’t quite as common, but there are still nearly 300,000 of those performed annually (according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons).
Problems arise when replacement components either are implanted incorrectly (screwing into a weaker part of the bone, for example, or pinching a nerve between the existing bone and the implant) or if the components themselves are defective. Such high-profile orthopedic manufacturers as DePuy, Stryker and Johnson & Johnson have all had to recall hundreds of thousands of replacement devices after it was revealed that the pieces were breaking down inside patients’ bodies, causing metallosis and other serious complications.
If you’ve had one of these faulty components installed, you could be facing multiple corrective surgeries, inflammation, infection and massive amounts of pain. You may, however, be eligible for compensation for the injuries you have suffered; contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more.