When is it Time for a New Knee or Hip?

April 1st, 2011

Injury, disease or overuse can cause the body’s joints to break down over time, especially the hips and knees. But when does the pain and restricted movement reach the point where you should consider joint replacement surgery?

“Degeneration of a joint is usually a gradual process, but I’ve found that patients tend to reach a point where they realize that something needs to be done,” says Matthew Austin, MD, Chief of the Joint Replacement Program at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

In the past, joint replacement surgery was typically restricted to people in their 60s and 70s, but today it’s not uncommon to see people in their 40s and 50s seeking replacements.

“There have been great improvements over the years in the design of artificial joints and in the material used in their construction,” says Dr. Austin. “This has the potential to greatly extend the life span of these implants and increase the success rate of joint replacement surgery. Today, we will consider operating on much younger people if they fail conservative treatment.”

Dr. Austin offers the following signs that may indicate it’s time to consider joint replacement surgery:

  • Intractable or unmanageable pain in the joint
  • Simple activities of daily living are compromised
  • X-rays show evidence of significant joint damage
  • Conservative forms of treatment have failed
  • Pain that affects your overall quality of life

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