Joint pain is a lot more common than some might think, and the unfortunate fact is that it tends to become more common and get worse with age. In one American national study1, a surprising third of those interviewed reported that they had struggled with joint pain in just the past 30 days! Of these, the most common was knee pain, followed by shoulder and then hip pain.
While joint pain might be increasingly more common, thankfully, not all such pain will lead to joint surgery. There are several reasons people may suffer joint pain. These range from injury (such as a sprain), Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Bursitis and Gout; treatment for each of these conditions differs vastly. It is always best to consult with your health provider for a diagnosis first and to get their recommended course of treatment prior to pursuing surgery. The type of treatment they may recommend could range from various medications, supplements, topical ointments, physiotherapy, injections, any combination of these, and even possibly, joint surgery.
While joint pain might be increasingly more common, thankfully, not all joint pain will lead to joint surgery.
Knee and hip replacement surgery can offer much-needed pain relief and increased mobility to patients, however, at Cape Hip and Knee we prioritise joint preservation over joint replacement. To read more about it, view our article: When Is Joint Preservation the Best Treatment Option. It is only after consultation and much careful consideration that total replacement is recommended.
While it is possible for almost anyone to undergo joint replacement surgery, it is not always advisable. Why is this?
- Artificial joints have a lifespan, and different joints last longer than others. For instance, hip and knee replacements are reported to last 15 – 20 years, while a shoulder replacement might only last 10 years. Because of this, a patient’s age needs to be taken into consideration. If they are young, there is an increased likelihood that their joint will need to be replaced again (revision surgery). Younger patients are also generally very active and continually on the go, which may result in their prostheses wearing out faster compared to the average. For this reason, doctors typically hold off on suggesting total joint arthroplasty until patients are over the age of 60. A vast majority of hip and knee replacements typically occur in those 70-90 years of age.
- Brittle bones can impact the surgery’s success. If a patient’s bones are very brittle from Osteoporosis, their bones may not be able to support the implant. In this instance, unfortunately, surgery cannot take place.
- Patients need to be physically fit and sufficiently healthy for surgery. The reality is that surgery impacts the human body, and risks need to be minimised. Those who would need to be closely monitored include those who are significantly overweight, diabetic or have a heart condition; the more muscle tone one has before the surgery, the better. Any health issues are best discussed with your orthopaedic surgeon, who can explore the various options with you.
- Infection and inflammation will delay surgery. Any source of infection in the body (most often found in the mouth, feet, hands or skin) can impact on the success of the prosthesis placement, rapidly resulting in an infection of the prosthesis and ultimately impacting on the overall success of the surgery. Because of this, any indication of infection or inflammation will result in the postponement of the operation. To read more about this view: Infections in Total Joint Replacement Therapy.
Fun Fact: Hips and knees may be the most common joint replacements for rheumatoid arthritis, but ankles, shoulders and even finger joints are replaceable – since the 1950’s, you have even been able to get your knuckles replaced!
Don’t allow pain to prevent you from living a full life. Our collaborative team approach provides assurance that we consider only the most optimal treatment for you. If surgery is recommended, we will discuss the related benefits and risks of the recommended surgical approach to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the procedure. Our objective is to help you make an informed decision regarding your joint injury and possible treatment. It is essential that you feel equipped, have peace of mind and have all your questions answered.
Recommended reads: You can find more helpful information about the Difference Between Arthroplasty and Arthroscopy, Recovery After Arthroplasty and other useful articles under our articles page with frequently asked questions answered under the procedures tab.
Book a consultation with us to discuss your injury and take the first step on your road to recovery!
1 CDC: “QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Reporting Joint Pain or Stiffness – National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2006,” “Gout.”