Medically Reviewed by Rodney K. Alan, MD
“The prospect of walking around with finely-honed metal, plastic and ceramic in your knee or hip raises anxiety in some prospective joint replacement patients. Sometimes the anxiety felt by these patients can be due to myths that they have heard regarding joint replacement,” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Rodney Alan, MD. “Here’s the truth behind some myths that should help patients decide whether or not joint replacement is a good choice.”
I’m too young for a hip or knee replacement.
Truth: There are many factors to consider regarding the timing of joint replacement. While age is a consideration, it is not the only factor to consider. Traditionally joint replacement has been reserved for older adults in their 60s. There are several reasons why this is the case. First, the recommended activities after joint replacement are more suited for the older adult. Younger patients often desire a functional level that is not suited for joint replacement. As a result, patient reported outcomes of joint replacement in younger patients are not as good as outcomes in older patients.
Additionally, most adults do not develop severe “bone on bone” deformities until later in life. Joint replacement is most beneficial when there are “bone on bone” changes seen on radiographs. After considering many factors, your doctor may recommend surgery even though you are younger than the traditional recommended age for joint replacement. Patients who benefit from joint replacement at a young age often have unusually severe deformity that impairs functional mobility.
I need to delay seeing an Orthopedic Specialist about joint replacement as long as possible.
Truth: If you are having severe joint pain that is not responding to activity modification and over the counter medications you should seek evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon. Chronic pain can negatively impact your life. If you feel that hip or knee pain is interfering with your lifestyle, see a specialist. Conservative methods should always be explored before joint replacement is considered. And if joint replacement is needed, it can relieve pain and restore your mobility.
I wish I had the procedure earlier. Now I’m probably too old for it.
Truth: Your doctor will help you decide whether or not the risks of joint replacement outweigh the potential benefits. A 2010 study found that patients in 75-90 age group generally benefited from knee replacement surgery. When looking at the benefits and recovery time, researchers found that they were about the same for people over 75 as for those ages 65 – 74.
If I get a joint replacement, it will wear out in 10-15 years.
Truth: The metal and plastic in joint replacements do not wear out over the lifespan of humans. Your bone around the joint replacement deteriorates over time due to a number of factors related to your body and its interaction with the prosthesis. Many joint replacements gradually loosen from the bone over 15 – 20 years because of tiny particles that are generated from the artificial components rubbing over time as the joint moves. Ongoing research to better understand the effect of these particles have led to modifications to the materials which produce less particles compared to joint replacements done in the past.
I’ll be laid up for weeks after the surgery.
Truth: It’s just the opposite. Physical therapists encourage most patients to walk or climb a few stairs the same day or day after surgery. Early and regular walking helps rebuild the muscles and reduces changes of a dangerous blot clot forming. Some hip surgery patients can put the walker away after a few days and drop the cane after a few weeks.
My exercise and sporting days are over after joint replacement
Truth: Although jogging and marathons are probably off your exercise list, you can continue to enjoy sports and low-impact activities, including golf, doubles tennis, swimming, cycling and beach walks.
Surgery is the only way to solve knee and hip problem.
Truth: Specialists prefer to try a number of non-surgical options first, including exercise, physical therapy, medications – and weight loss, which can significantly reduce the pain.