The leading cause of disability in the United States is osteoarthritis. There is no known cure.
Consequently, osteoarthritis is managed with a variety of treatments to reduce disability, improve
function, and alleviate symptoms. When conservative treatments fail, surgical intervention is
indicated. The most effective surgical option for moderate to severe osteoarthritis in the knee or
hip is total joint replacement (TJR). TJR is often considered appropriate in cases where other
non-surgical treatments have not brought adequate relief. TJR in the management of end-stage
osteoarthritis is widely utilized and is considered the fastest growing elective surgery in the
nation, if not the world.
Although TJR is highly successful at treating advanced kip or knee osteoarthritis, there is
substantial evidence that disparities exist in TJR utilization in non-VA settings, with racial
and ethnic disparities being the most documented. This report compares what is known about
disparities in TJR in the VA context with disparities in non-VA settings.