While hip and knee replacements were once reserved for the elderly, joint replacements are becoming more popular as an option for restoring normal function in patients of all ages. When conservative treatments fail, a hip or knee replacement is often the only remedy available for degenerative bone conditions, traumatic injuries, and other issues that can affect young and old alike.
At Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, orthopedic surgeon Robert Douglas Bostick III, MD, provides expert diagnosis and treatment for hip and knee issues. In this blog, Dr. Bostick explains why a hip or knee replacement may be beneficial even if you’re young.
Reasons for a hip or knee replacement
Only an orthopedic surgeon can determine the best course of treatment for persistent hip or knee pain. When daily activities, such as sitting, standing, and walking, are too painful to complete normally, it’s time to seek a medical evaluation.
You may qualify for a hip or knee replacement when nonsurgical treatments, such as medications, physical therapy, and activity modifications, fail to relieve joint pain and disability. Hip or knee replacement surgery replaces the damaged joint with an artificial substitute made of metal, plastic, or both.
The following conditions are associated with the need for a hip or knee replacement for both young and old patients:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Traumatic injuries
- Overuse injuries
- Joint infections
- Bone tumors
Benefits of joint replacement surgery
Total hip and knee replacement surgeries are among the most successful operations performed. The annual failure rate for both hip and knee replacements is between 0.5-1.0%.
A joint replacement can provide benefits to orthopedic health and your overall well-being. Patients who undergo a hip or knee replacement can usually expect the following benefits:
- Relief from debilitating pain
- Restoration of full function of the damaged joint
- Return to most normal activities for decades
- Reduction of chronic health conditions associated with immobility, such as heart failure, depression, and diabetes
In the past, a hip or knee replacement was reserved for patients of advanced age, usually ages 60-80, because there was a risk of the replacement joint “wearing out” in younger patients. Since younger people are more active, there was a concern that they could wear out their artificial joints faster and require an additional implant within 15-20 years after their first joint replacement.
However, improvements in the plastic components used to make prosthetic devices have increased their durability. Advancements, such as cementless implant fixation and robot-assisted surgery, can give today’s implants lifespans of up to 30 years.
Furthermore, if parts do need to be replaced later, the procedure — which is called revision surgery — is often not as extensive as the original procedure. Many revision procedures typically involve exchanging the existing plastic insert for a new one rather than removing additional bone.
Delaying a necessary hip or knee replacement can have consequences. Over time, damaged joints can become deformed, and the muscles surrounding them can weaken, which can make treatment and rehabilitation more complicated.
Deterioration of general medical health, along with the onset of weight gain, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, and decreased endurance, can also threaten the possibility of having any type of surgery later in life.
While a hip or knee replacement can provide pain relief and improved function, the improvement isn’t immediate. Healing and recovery take time and patience. Individuals who undergo joint replacement surgery must be willing to undergo intensive rehabilitation therapy to enjoy the benefits of their new joint.
Your expectations and commitment to follow-up care can determine the success of a hip or knee replacement at any age. It’s important to understand that recovering from a hip or knee replacement is a long process that can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on your individual condition.
Committing to physical therapy and following long-term restrictions regarding activities or movement can help you achieve optimal results for the longest possible time. And, maintaining the recommended schedule of follow-up visits can help identify signs of deterioration and the need for revision surgery early.
To find out whether you’re a candidate for a hip or knee replacement, book an appointment online or over the phone with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.