Life after a knee replacement is expected to be less painful and more mobile. At the same time, total knee replacement isn’t a procedure that most surgeons recommend rushing into. It’s hard for patients to know when the ideal moment to undergo joint replacement surgery might be. Usually, total knee replacement is recommended for those between the ages of 50-80. But even within that age bracket, it’s natural to wonder: when is the right age for a knee replacement?
Deciding When to Undergo Knee Replacement
A total knee replacement is often performed as an outpatient surgery, but the procedure is still a significant operation. Patients are likely to require several months of recovery and rehabilitation. Once the rehab is complete, you will likely be more mobile and experience significantly less pain--but getting to that point requires a commitment.
Patients, therefore, are usually asked to weigh two thoughts when deciding when to undergo their knee replacement surgery: On the one hand, the procedure relieves pain and may improve mobility--patients should have as many years as possible to enjoy the fruits of the surgery.
On the other hand, there may be advantages to preserving the biological knee for as long as possible and the surgical procedure is intense, so you won’t want to undergo the procedure too early. Knowing what to expect after a knee replacement can help you and your surgeon determine the ideal age to undergo the procedure.
There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Age for Knee Replacement
Every single patient is evaluated individually for knee replacement surgery. It’s true that in general, the recommended age range for knee replacement is between 50-80 years of age. However, there are a great many variables which may impact whether you undergo knee replacement earlier or later than that age window. Some of those variables include:
- Joint health: The more pain and stiffness you experience with your knee, the sooner you may want to consider total knee replacement.
- Your ability to undergo rehabilitation: You must be able to commit time to your rehab in order to have a successful joint replacement procedure and regain mobility.
- Overall health: If you are in reasonably good health, the age window could conceivably be extended.
- Activity level: Those with a higher activity level may be more interested in undergoing knee replacement. This may be especially true if patients maintain a high activity level beyond the age of 80, for example.
Your surgeon will evaluate you personally to see whether you are a good fit for joint replacement surgery. So it’s impossible to provide an exact window and cut off for everyone. While uncommon, some people may need a knee replacement before the age of 50. Others may still receive one beyond the age of 80. It will all depend on your unique condition, fitness level, and desired outcome.
Alternatives to Total Knee Replacement
If a surgeon thinks you might be a little old or a little young to undergo a complete knee replacement procedure, you might be a good candidate for other surgical options. For example, a partial knee replacement can be a good solution for those who present disease only in portions of the joint. Outpatient surgery options can make partial knee replacement especially appealing.
Additionally, partial joint replacement procedures can produce a significant improvement in discomfort and in mobility while minimizing overall recovery and rehabilitation requirements. Whether a partial or total knee replacement will better relieve your symptoms will be up to you and your knee surgeon. Life after a knee replacement--even a partial knee replacement--can lead to significant and positive changes in a patient’s overall quality of life.
In cases where surgery is not a good option, your surgeon may suggest physical therapy as a way to help manage pain and mobility issues.
Scheduling Your Knee Replacement
Ultimately, the decision on how to schedule your knee replacement procedure will be between you and your surgeon. You’ll have to balance many variables, including your age. Outpatient surgery makes knee replacement much easier to fit into your normal schedule, but it’s important to factor in recovery and rehab time.
Total knee replacement procedures are often performed at the Iowa City Ambulatory Surgical Center, providing patients with a safe and convenient way to undergo these operations. If you want to know more about outpatient knee surgery, talk to your surgeon about your options.