There’s a 95 percent chance that a hip or knee replacement will last between 15 and 25 years. For most people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, their artificial joints will last the rest of their life.
Cleveland, Ohio (PRWEB) May 18, 2012
Medications. Physical therapy. Steroid injections. Many people try them all, but their joint pain always seems to come back.
Joint replacement surgery could be an option, though, naturally, many patients are apprehensive. (It is surgery, after all.)
But with recent advances in surgical technologies and pain management techniques, there’s no need to fear joint replacement, says Matthew Kraay, MD, director of joint reconstruction and arthritis surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedics, and professor of orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
“These are very commonly performed surgeries – half a million knee replacements and 200,000 hip replacements are performed in the country every year,” Dr. Kraay says. “They are much safer, more durable and more effective procedures than in the past.”
Here are some common fears and facts about joint replacement.
FEAR: “I’m too old/ unhealthy for surgery.”
FACT: Most joint replacement candidates range in age from 50s to 80s, Dr. Kraay says, but being older doesn’t necessarily preclude someone from surgery. “The bottom line is that most people are healthy enough for surgery,” he says. “We prefer to not replace joints in really young people, but if they are on the older end of the spectrum, most of the time they are healthy enough for surgery.”
FEAR: “I’m afraid the joint won’t feel like me.”
FACT: Fearing that an artificial joint won’t feel as if it’s a normal part of their body is common, but people shouldn't let that fear keep them from a life of painfree movement. “Many people get back to their normal function, and while the joint itself may not feel identical to their natural joint, the point of the surgery is to relieve their pain, and joint replacement can do that,” Dr. Kraay says.
FEAR: “Rehabilitation will be too hard.”
FACT: Rehabilitation after joint replacement surgery is really where the rubber meets the road, and the prospect may seem daunting. But just as with surgery, rehabilitation isn’t what it used to be. “Many people think that rehab is long and involved and takes forever, but that’s not really the case. We do have pretty accelerated rehabs due largely to improved surgical techniques and postoperative care,” Dr. Kraay says. Smaller incisions for hip replacement and more aggressive pain management programs for knees are helping people get back on their feet and rehabilitate faster than ever before.
FEAR: “It won’t last.”
FACT: Many people delay joint replacement until later in life because they have been led to believe that replacements last only 10 years. But by postponing surgery, they could be missing out on years of pain-free activity: Well-performed hip and knee replacements should last much longer, Dr. Kraay says. “There’s a 95 percent chance that a hip or knee replacement will last between 15 and 25 years. For most people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, their artificial joints will last the rest of their life,” he says.
FEAR: “I’m concerned about joint recalls.”
FACT: Seeing news stories about recalled joint implants could make anyone fearful about joint replacement, but Dr. Kraay says that only a handful of implants and devices are ever recalled. “Most perform very well, but the real issue is, there are some highly proven technologies that have been extensively analyzed and have a proven record of success. It is important to remember that just because a technique is ‘new’ doesn’t mean it’s better,” he says. “We recommend that patients go with proven and tested technologies and there are certainly plenty of those available.”
FEAR: “I won’t be able to do the things that I enjoy.”
FACT: “One common worry many people share is that their activities will be limited by joint replacement. But most people can get back to a high level of activity with minimal limitations following surgery,” says Dr. Kraay. High-impact activities, such as running, jumping and heavy lifting, aren’t recommended after hip and knee replacement, but most people can resume unlimited low-impact activities, such as swimming, golf, doubles tennis and biking. It’s important, however, to have realistic expectations about what your postsurgery life will be like, and the level of activity you’re able to reach has a lot to do with where you were before surgery. “If an individual is overweight, out of shape or someone who is very elderly and has been extremely sedentary, they’re not going to get back to walking 10 miles a day because that’s probably not something they’ve done since they were in their 20s,” Dr. Kraay says.
“But if a person has reasonable expectations and is sensible about getting back to activities, he or she is most likely going to be satisfied with the results.”