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Posted on in Orthopedics

You May Be a Candidate for Total Joint Replacement If… (When It’s Time for New Hip or Knee Joint)

“Constant pain severe enough to limit activities of daily living are signs that your hip or knee joint may need surgical replacement,” says McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Rodney Alan. “Beyond the pain itself, a person’s age and overall health are considerations.”

In medical terms, a knee or hip joint replacement involves surgically replacing injured or damaged parts of the joint with metal, plastic or other materials.

Age

Historically, joint replacement surgery was performed on people over age 60.  However, increases in some disease, younger people undertaking stressful exercise and more durable replacement materials are leading to joint replacement surgery for people in their 30s and 40s.  The fastest growing age group seeking new knees and hips are people aged 45-60.

Health Issues

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause leading to hip and knee joint replacement. The disease causes a gradual deterioration of the joint, leading to pain, swelling, creaking and stiffness in the joint. 

Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s immune system to attack tissues surrounding the joint.  Pain, swelling, and stiffness result.  Generally, people in early adulthood or middle age suffer from the disease.  Although, it can sometimes begin in childhood.

Parkinson’s or other chronic diseases can weaken muscles, putting wear-and-tear on the joints.

Injuries or fractures can also spark deterioration of the hip or knee joint, leading to replacement.

Pain and More

Daily pain is clearly one significant indicator that you might need joint replacement surgery.  Here’s a short list of other symptoms or problems to look for:

  • The pain is bad enough to restrict your work on the job, recreation activities (golf, basketball, walking) or limits even your daily activities at home.
  • Stiffness in the hip or knee that limits range of motion, speed or ability to walk distances.  Sometimes the stiffness and pain is so bad a cane or other walker aid is required.
  • Instability – especially in the knee – is a sign to look for.  Does your knee constantly give away, causing you to stumble?  
  • Deformities, formed when tissue around the knee joint deteriorates, may develop into knock-knees or bow leggedness.

What’s Next?

If you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms discussed here, see your personal physician or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Tests will include imaging (X-Rays, CT) along with analysis of range of motion and muscle strength. 

Before deciding on joint replacement surgery, the physician may suggest exercise, diet adjustments or medication to restore you to living a full life.  Today’s knee and hip replacements are lasting 15 years or longer – with new developments in materials and techniques discovered regularly.

To find a physician, click here.  

Sources include:  McLeod Health, healthcentral.com, National Institutes of Health, ehealthmd.com, 

The information on this site is intended to increase your awareness and understanding of specific health issues and
services at McLeod Health. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for health care by your physician.
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