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Am I too young for a joint replacement?

By: Dr. Zackary Byrd

Am I too young for a joint replacement? As a hip and knee replacement specialist I get this question a lot. At JIS Orthopedics we see patients of all ages for pain in the spine, shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, and hands caused by anything you can imagine. In my own practice I’ve done knee replacements for patients in their 90’s and hip replacements for patients in their 20’s. The best “short” answer to the question of whether you’re too young really depends on 3 main things. What’s causing your joint pain? How impactful is your condition on your quality of life? What treatment options do we have for your unique situation? Most likely the answer is no, you’re not too young for a joint replacement if that’s what you really need.

Ultimately, the concern is if you’re young when you get a joint replaced, you’ll need another one at some point. Makes sense right? Who wants to get a surgery knowing it has a shelf life? At JIS Orthopedics we are on the cutting edge of techniques and technology, we are world leaders in outpatient joint surgery, and the reality is that we are moving joint replacement away from that concept. Let me explain. The average age of people who get their hips and knees replaced is going down. The typical activity level of patients who have hip and knee replacements is going up. The idea that your joint replacement will “wear out” and need changed like the tires on your car is old school. The techniques and materials we use are just getting better and better. Here’s how it breaks down for hip replacement, but the same basic thing applies to shoulders and knees as well. Check it out.

By 2030 over half of patients who get a hip (or a knee) replaced will likely be under 65 years old.1 The largest increase in demand for these operations will be in patients between 45 and 55 years old.1 JIS Orthopedics published an article in February comparing the age of our hip replacement patients to their rates of revision. Know what we found? Younger patients don’t really have a higher rate of revision surgery.2 The most common reason people did need more surgery was because of fractures, not because their hips were worn out.2 We also published an article comparing the activity level of our hip replacement patients and their rate of revision surgery. Guess what? More activity didn’t lead to more surgery, in fact the truth was closer to the opposite. Now…I’ll admit that if you’re 30 you’ll probably have more years to potentially need a revision than if you’re 80. Does that mean you shouldn’t have your joint replaced if you’re in your 40’s or 60’s? I don’t think so, at least not if that’s what it takes to have great quality of life during the years when you can use it.

Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your life now even if it does mean you’d potentially need another surgery? I would. What do you have to gain by putting it off? On the other hand, what do you have to miss out on? If you ask us, we don’t believe in “mortgaging” your youth to avoid a joint replacement, especially when revision rates continue to improve! If you’re not living your best life because of joint pain, come see us at JIS Orthopedics. We have the best physicians around for everything from shoulders, hands and elbows to spines, hips and knees. We want to help you Live Without Limits. Schedule a consultation today online or by calling us at (866) 604-8766.

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References:

  1. Schreurs BW, Hannink G. Total joint arthroplasty in younger patients: heading for trouble?. The lancet. 2017 Apr 8;389(10077):1374-5.
  2. Lombardi AV Jr, Byrd ZO, Berend KR, Morris MJ, Adams JB, Crawford DA. Mid-Term Survival of Total Hip Arthroplasty in Patients Younger Than 55-year-old. J Arthroplasty. 2022 Feb 28:S0883-5403(22)00243-1. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2022.02.092. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35240281.
  3. Crawford DA, Adams JB, Hobbs GR, Morris MJ, Berend KR, Lombardi AV Jr. Does Activity Level After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty Affect Aseptic Survival? Arthroplasty Today. 2021 Aug 23;11:68-72. doi: 10.1016/j.artd.2021.07.005. PMID: 34471662; PMCID: PMC8387823.

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