Replaceable Body Parts: Getting New Knees

Jan 12, 2016

Between the ages of 55 and 62, John Little completed 15 Ironman triathlons. For the last three years, he could only power-walk the leg of the race where he was supposed to run due to the pain in his knees.

“I finally went in and had my knees x-rayed. My surgeon told me, ‘I don’t understand how you’re walking right now.’”

John Little walking the third leg of an Ironman triathlon in Hawaii.
Credit Courtesy of John Little

Little had a double knee replacement about 10 weeks ago. Now, his knee joints are plastic and ceramic instead of bone and cartilage. During this River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Little about the pain he was in before surgery, and what it was like to get his joints replaced.

Dr. Nicolas Noiseux, an orthopedic surgeon from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Nichole Nigg, who directs Mercy Medical Center’s rehabilitation clinic in Des Moines, also join the conversation.

Increasingly, it’s Iowans between the ages of 40-50 that are coming in for this type of surgery.

According to Dr. Noiseux, the sticker price for a new knee is between $15,000-$25,000 before insurance. During this program, we also hear about the reasons people need knee replacements. It’s often because of genetic factors and the angle of a joint more than activity level. 

This story originally aired on April 7, 2015.