Joint replacement patients getting younger

Dr Vivek Logani
Our joints that act as the connecting points between bones and make all motion possible are priceless for the body.

It is traumatic then when they start failing, leaving you with restricted movement and a curtailed life.

Total knee replacement surgery comes
to the rescue of many when a knee becomes decrepit. However, a knee replacement that was once considered a recourse of the old is now becoming more common among a younger set of patients.

So, what exactly leads to a joint replacement surgery? Developmental disorders, injury caused by accidents and the condition of osteoarthritis with unstable pressure on joints could make you one of the millions needing joint replacements.

One of the most common conditions that can lead to the need of a knee replacement is arthritis that degenerates the joint.

“Total knee replacement is a boon for people whose knees are no longer functional. It brings back normalcy into the lives of many. In recent years there has been a change in the profile of patients seeking joint replacements. Today, we see a lot more younger people requiring a knee replacement,” says Dr Vivek Logani, Chief of Joint Replacement Surgery, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon and Delhi.

“In younger patients, joint replacements are often necessitated due to an accident or injury and sometimes due to early onset of arthritis. We have operated patients of accelerated Osteoarthritis as young as 40 years. Patients with other kinds of arthritis can present in a much younger age as well. For eg: We have done total knee replacement in patients of hemophilic arthritis as young as 26 years. Patients of ankylosing spondylitis as young as 23 years with bony fusion of knee due to the disease process have undergone total knee replacement by us,” says the doctor.

Total knee replacement surgery has long been used to treat severe arthritis in severe knee arthritis that is not relieved with conservative treatments.

In general, however, while the average age of patients seeking knee replacements remains 60 or more, more and more patients under 50 years today are seeking knee replacements.

This trend can be attributed to both good and bad reasons. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles together with very less physical activity are leading to degradation in joints in a number of young people.

Be it a frozen shoulder or jammed knee, all these are lifestyle issues that have put youngsters in danger of acquiring joint related ailments at a younger age. Sometimes arthritis too sets in fairly early, putting a victim in need of joint replacement. This was the bad aspect.

The good reason why joint replacements are today being opted by an increasing number of young patients is that they have become more durable and lasting today, unlike some years ago.

If a young patient knows that her replaced joint will last anywhere between 25-30 years, she can confidently go for it not worrying about whether she is ‘too young’ for a joint replacement.

Once reserved for elderly patients, total knee replacement surgery is becoming more common in the younger, active population. Effectively, joint replacement is no more just for the elderly.

“The main risk factor in conducting a joint replacement in younger patients is the wearing out of the implant. If the artificial implant wears its life early, the patient may need another replacement surgery. However, today with much improved technology, we have joints that last for as long as 30 years. This makes the surgery tremendously worthwhile unlike some years back when an artifical joint would last 10 years only,” says Dr Logani.

Today benefits of performing total knee replacement surgery in younger patients are many. It ensures a good quality of life, an active lifestyle, relief from pain and restriction and gives the patient ability to maintaining proper fitness.

By having a functioning knee once again and following fit lifestyles, the patients may also reduce the risk of several diseases whose onset in accelerated by lack of physical activity and excess weight like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

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