The Older Person’s Guide To Joint Replacement

Jan. 13, 2009
American Geriatric Society

Knee and hip replacement can ease pain and improve movement and function in joints damaged by disease or injury. The surgery – in which damaged or diseased parts of the joint are replaced with metal or plastic substitutes – has a very high success rate. That said, there are some risks. A small percentage of people who have the surgery, for example, develop joint infections. And recovery after surgery takes several weeks. Healthcare staff, however, take steps to prevent complications and speed recovery. And patients who prep for surgery and follow through with physical therapy afterward can further boost their odds of a good outcome.

If you’re considering joint replacement surgery, here’s what the experts with the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging (FHA) suggest:

Ask yourself some questions

If you have joint pain but can keep it under control with small lifestyle changes, by taking a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), or with physical therapy, you may not need surgery. If, on the other hand, you answer “yes” to the following questions, you may benefit from surgery:

Does joint pain make it hard for you to sleep?

Is the pain keeping you from doing things you want to do, like visit friends, or travel?

Do everyday activities, such as standing from a sitting position, or walking up stairs, hurt?

Discuss your symptoms and your options with your healthcare provider