Joint Replacement Surgery Before Age 50
I'm Under 50 Years Old. Is Joint Replacement Right For Me?
People in their 40s, 30s, or even 20s may suffer from debilitating joint pain. If this describes you, you may be a candidate for total joint replacement (TJR). Although most TJRs are performed in older people, TJR is increasingly being recommended for younger people whose lifestyles are compromised by severe joint pain. Studies show that in younger patients the procedure helps reduce or eliminate pain that is unresponsive to nonsurgical treatments.
Your surgeon may recommend TJR if you have severe pain and/or have joint problems that limit your lifestyle. In younger people, chronic joint pain is often caused by lupus, which can lead to avascular necrosis; trauma; hemophilia; sickle cell anemia; juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; or premature osteoarthritis.
Your surgeon will proceed with TJR only after a comprehensive evaluation, including an x-ray examination, during which he or she will look for medical reasons why TJR may not be right for you. In younger people, there are few obstacles to TJR, although deep joint infection, severe heart or lung disease, or diabetes may make you ineligible. Remember, your general health is more important than age in the decision to proceed with TJR.
Risk and complication rates from TJR surgery have dropped significantly with lower rates of infection, wearing and loosening, and fracture. Wearing and loosening tend to be the major concerns in younger people who put more stress on their new joints than do older people.
During your recovery from TJR, you will not be allowed to move in ways that may dislocate the prosthesis. Younger people, once their pain is relieved, often want to "act their age" and try to return to manual labor or athletics, so you will probably be counseled about what level of activity you can expect. It is worth remembering that although joint replacements are sturdy, they cannot totally reproduce the function of a normal, healthy joint.
One question you might have is will you need another replacement joint at some point in your life. Techniques and materials have continued to improve, but remember that many complications can lead to failure of the joint replacement.
Consult Eisenhower Joint Replacement Center to see if total joint replacement could be an option to relieve your joint pain.