M.D. Insights


Too Old for Joint Replacement? 


Louis Stabile, M.D.

Orthopedic Surgery

Am I Too Old for a Joint Replacement?

Let's dive into a topic that hits close to home for many of us—joint pain. We might experience joint pain for many reasons, but once a diagnosis has been determined and a joint replacement is recommended, you might wonder, "Am I too old for a joint replacement?" Well, grab a seat (or stand if your joints allow) because we're about to debunk the myths and explore how joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty, can be a game-changer, regardless of age.

Myth #1: Joint replacement is for old people only. 

group of people working out

Let's kick things off by shaking off a common misconception—the idea that age should be a showstopper for joint replacement. Sure, joints might throw us a curveball as the years roll by, but guess what? Thanks to advancements in the medical world, joint replacement has become an option for folks in every chapter of life.

Your doctor’s recommendation for surgery will depend on your joint pain and extent of disability, not age. There’s no absolute age restriction on who can get joint replacement. A real-life scenario is a study published by the National Library of Medicine which reported results that most elderly patients returned to a more functional lifestyle after joint replacement. Many knee replacement surgeries have been performed successfully at all ages, from young teenagers with juvenile arthritis to elderly patients with degenerative joint disease.

Myth #2: Joint replacement means I'll spend many months on bed rest. 

You’ll be surprised, but this is often not the case. Most of our patients at Desert Care Network Primary and Specialty Orthopedic Care who underwent replacement surgeries can begin exercising their joints hours after the procedure. One thing to note is that traditional or open joint surgery may require larger incisions through skin or tissue, so wounds from it may take longer to heal than incisions from a minimally invasive procedure.

Engaging in your prescribed physical therapy program can help strengthen and restore joint movement. Following your surgeon’s recovery instructions may allow you to go back to your normal activities of daily living as soon as possible.

Myth #3: Having a joint replacement will limit my mobility and activities. I won't be able to do sports.

Most people who have joint replacement surgery experience significant joint pain reduction and significant improvement in their ability to perform activities of daily living. Recovery is generally faster and with less pain for patients who have minimally invasive surgery than those who have traditional replacement. Your doctor will let you know once you can return to many of the physical activities you enjoyed before your joint replacement, such as walking, swimming, ballroom dancing and other low-impact sports.

When To Consider a Joint Replacement?

Here are the things your joint will tell you that will make you think it’s time to seriously consider a joint replacement:

  • Persistent pain: Joint pain is drowning out the music of your daily life. It’s becoming hard to physically do certain normal activities!
  • Stiffness jam: Your joints become stubborn and you begin to physically or mentally compensate.
  • Non-surgical options fall flat: You've tried all the non-surgical options—meds, therapy, lifestyle changes—and none of them are getting your joints moving without pain.

Joint Health Knows No Age Limits

Forget what you knew about joint replacement—it's not your grandpa's surgery anymore. We're talking about high-tech, precision-filled procedures that can bring back the swagger to your walk, such as minimally invasive surgery. A surgeon uses a robotic system to check the joint condition in detail and plan a treatment. The robot cannot perform surgery independently; rather, it has a robotic arm that surgeons use to guide and perform procedures within the surgical site. The surgeon uses a computer to control small surgical tools attached to the robot’s arm.

Joint Replacement Just Might Be Worth It

If you are scheduled for a joint replacement procedure, your doctor will discuss with you what to expect before, during and after your surgery. This is also your opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your procedure. No surgery is one-size-fits-all, so your joint replacement journey is personalized and crafted to fit your health goals and lifestyle.

With quality materials and advanced surgical techniques, joint replacements generally can still function 15-20 years later. Keep in mind that other factors, such as wear and tear caused by decades of movement, can affect its performance and lifespan, so stay on top of your doctor’s appointments so you can enjoy the benefits of pain-free joint for a long time.

Don't Let Joint Replacement Disrupt Your Life

In Coachella Valley, where our playground is the great outdoors, joint health is the real MVP. If you're thinking about joint replacement or just want to learn more about your joint treatment options, our team is available. Do your best to make sure your life is filled with vitality, love and motion.

Keep moving, Coachella Valley!