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Am I too old for joint replacement?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip Replacement Surgery

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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 replaced joints. These surgeries are most often done in patients between the ages of 55 to 80, but they can be performed in patients in their 80s and 90s.
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?

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
    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.

Source:

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

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