When we are young, we often take things for granted: The ability to walk, swim, run. It doesn’t even cross our minds that we might not be able to do it due to age or injury. But when it happens, that’s all we can think about; all day, every day.
If you’re an athlete, you’re likely more familiar with the process of getting orthopedic treatment and staying off the court or field until your injury is healed. But what happens when a person is in his or her 80s or 90s? Is there an age when it is too dangerous to get joint replacement surgery?
What is joint replacement surgery?
There are two types of joint replacement surgery: total or partial. The latter is performed when only a portion of the patient’s cartilage is damaged. When that is the case, the orthopedic surgeon will only replace the injured section of the joint. It can be done in your shoulders, hips, or knees.
The most common reasons for needing a joint replacement are:
– Sports injury
– Trauma (such as an accident or fall)
– Degenerative diseases
There are many reasons a person may decide to undergo joint replacement surgery: Athletes who can no longer do their sport of choice are usual candidates. So are people who suffer joint pain so regularly, they cannot perform usual activities of daily living without pain. These may include things such as bathing, getting dressed, doing household chores, walking, grocery shopping, and running other errands.
That being said, this type of surgery should only be considered as a last resort. Patients may try different types of exercises, weight loss, medication, cortisone injections, or physical therapy prior to deciding whether this is the route they want to take.
How Long Do Joint Replacements Last?
A very common question is how long will a new joint last. After all, what’s the point of having surgery if a person would have to keep returning to the OR every couple of years?
For hip replacement, we use Birmingham Resurfacing, which lasts significantly longer than the typical 15 – 20 years from other types of hip replacement surgeries.
So rest assured, if you come to our clinic for treatment, you’ll be set for decades.
Joint Replacement Surgery for Elderly Patients
Joint replacement surgery is very common in the United States, including within the elderly population. In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association concluded that the majority of patients 75 and over who had joint replacement surgery experienced excellent long-term outcomes.
How Old is Too Old?
The eldest patients on record to have undergone knee replacement surgery are in their 90s. The truth is, a person in that age should be able to have joint replacement surgery if they are otherwise in good health. Granted, the best person who can make that determination is the patient’s doctor, since they can take into account the totality of circumstances of a individual’s medical history.
There are also additional factors to be discussed when considering surgery: Given the patient’s health and lifestyle, how long will it take him or her to recover? What is the likelihood of ongoing pain after surgery? Are there any risks of complication?
Overall, joint replacement surgery is relatively safe, even in older patients. However, surgeons will take into account preexisting conditions that may cause complications, such as:
– High blood pressure
– Heart disease
Schedule an Appointment With Alexander Orthopedics for Joint Replacement Consultation
Alexander Orthopedics is the premier subspecialist orthopedic practice in Tampa Bay. If you are experiencing joint pain, get a proper medical evaluation with us. We’ll help you determine your best treatment options and provide you with the support you need on the road to recovery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.