Am I Too Old for Joint Replacement?

There Are No Age Limits But These Factors are Considered

Consulting with doctor
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Question: Am I Too Old for Joint Replacement?

Joint replacement surgery is a common treatment for severe arthritis. Hip replacement and knee replacement are the most frequently joint replacements. These surgeries are most often done in patients between the ages of 55 to 80, but they can be performed in patients who are in their 80s and 90s. Is there an age limit for these procedures?

Answer: There is no age limit to have a joint replacement surgery.

If fact, age has little to do with the decision-making for when to have joint replacement surgery -- except for those who need joint replacement at a young age!

What Factors are Considered if Age is Not Important for Joint Replacement?

Doctors are much more interested in the overall health of a patient undergoing a surgical procedure, rather than their chronological age. Patients in their 90s may have the physiologic health of most people much younger. You surgeon will be more interested in:

  • Health Conditions
    The success of your surgery, or whether it would be risky to do surgery at all, depends on your overall health including any medical conditions you may have. Your primary physician will perform a complete examination and determine if you are likely to safely tolerate anesthesia, surgery, and recovery.
  • Strength
    Being able to rehabilitate after joint replacement requires some strength. Patients will need to help lift themselves, use walkers or other devices, and participate in physical therapy.
  • Mental Understanding/Cognition
    It is important for patients to understand the process of joint replacement. By understanding the procedure and the rehabilitation, the patient will be an active participant in his recovery. This is especially important for hip replacement surgery where special hip precautions are needed after the procedure.

    If you are wondering about your age and joint replacement, discuss this with your doctor. There is no age after which joint replacement cannot be performed. As patients get older, care needs to be taken to properly determine those patients who can tolerate the surgery and the recovery.

    Things to Consider Before Choosing Joint Replacement Surgery

    Often you can choose to delay joint replacement surgery, and then you need to consider when the time will be right. As there is no age limit, you won't be fighting the clock on that particular item. Instead, look at how the pain is affecting your daily life.

    • Do you have a condition that is likely to progress to the point where you would not be a good candidate for surgery?
    • If you smoke, are you willing to quit smoking so you have better success and recovery after joint replacement?
    • Is the pain keeping you from living a full life, including hobbies, travel and sports?
    • Does the pain keep you from getting enough restful sleep, or being able to walk, stand or sit comfortably?
    • Are you ready to lose excess weight, exercise and eat better so your body will be stronger when you have the joint replacement surgery?
    • Do you have someone who can assist you during recovery, and will they be available if you decide to delay surgery? Would you be able to use a rehabilitation care center instead?

    You are as young now as you ever will be. While you don't have to worry about a strict age limit, your age can be a factor in the timing.

    Source:

    Poss R, "Total Joint Replacement: Optimizing Patient Expectations" J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., Oct 1993; 1: 18 - 23.

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