When is it Time for Joint Replacement?
It’s common to develop joint pain as you age. Many people
think it’s so common and such a normal part of aging they don’t even talk to
their doctors about it. Arthritis, the most common form of joint pain in the
United States, affects one out of every six adults in America.
There are a lot of things you can do about
joint pain before you even have to give a thought to replacing a joint. Read
“Living with Arthritis: Take an Active Approach,” for advice about lifestyle
changes you can make to reduce arthritis pain. But for some
people, the time comes when replacing a painful joint is probably the best
Ask yourself some questions
It’s probably time to talk with your rheumatologist or
orthopedic surgeon about the possibility of joint replacement if you answer yes
to any of the following questions:
- Do you have trouble sleeping at night because of your
- Has your pain medication stopped working, or have you
been unable to find a medication that ever has worked?
- Does your pain keep you from normal activities such as
getting together with friends, going shopping or going on vacation?
- Do you have trouble going up stairs, getting out of a
chair, or getting off the floor or toilet?
Things to consider before making your decision
In order to make a decision about whether or not to have
joint replacement surgery, you and your doctor will need to discuss the
following subjects, to weigh the risks and benefits of the surgery for you:
Your current health status.
Conditions such as lung
disease, heart disease and high blood sugar add to the risk of surgery, and
certain medications lower your immune system. This doesn’t mean that you
shouldn’t have surgery if any of these circumstances apply to you. It just means
that you need to assess exactly what your risks are.
Your weight: If you’re extremely overweight, your
doctor may recommend that you lose some of that weight before the surgery.
Having your weight in the healthy range helps make your recovery easier and may
make your joint replacement last longer. When you have your new joint, you may
find it easier to keep weight off because it will become less painful for you to
Age: A general rule of thumb is that surgeons often
prefer to avoid doing joint replacement on the very old and the very young. Your
doctor will talk with you about your age and whether surgery would be too risky.
Osteoporosis: If you have a severe case of
osteoporosis, or if you’ve had a history of stress fractures, your doctor may
want to begin treatment for this before doing joint replacement surgery.
Nutrition: Good nutrition helps keep you in good
health. Your doctor may want to assess your diet to see whether there are
changes you could make in this area.
While most people don’t look forward to having any kind of
surgery, it’s important to keep in mind that in the long run, joint replacement
can greatly improve the quality of your life. It gives you freedom from constant
pain and allows you to enjoy the activities you’ve probably been avoiding for
some time now.
Read more about the types of joint replacement surgery
about the way one Ohio hospital does its best to make joint replacement fun.
The Arthritis Foundation