A knee replacement is a common surgery for those over sixty, but it’s not age-restricted. You might need a knee replacement sooner for any number of reasons, or you might have a choice of waiting until later while using more conservative treatments to manage knee pain and improve mobility.
At LA Orthopaedic Specialists in Los Angeles, California, our team of specialists can review your case and help you decide if having a knee replacement now is best or if it’s better to wait until later.
What you need to know about knee replacement
Unlike most joints, which are divided into two main sections (upper and lower, or inner and outer), the knee has three sections, or compartments. The medial section is at the inside of your knee. The lateral section is at the outside of your knee. The patella is in the front, your kneecap.
Partial knee replacement
If only one compartment of your knee is damaged, you may be able to have a unicompartmental, or partial knee replacement. This is a less invasive surgery, with restricted removal of healthy tissue and cartilage, and involves a smaller prosthetic inserted into your knee to recreate its structure.
Total knee replacement
If the damage to the knee involves two or all three compartments, you’ll need a total knee replacement (TKA). This is a more intensive surgery, with a complete prosthetic designed to replace the entire inner working of your knee joint. However it is also considered one of the most successful joint surgeries.
Deciding factors for your knee replacement
The right age for a knee replacement varies from person to person. There are many different factors that will go into the decision, and your age is just one.
Trauma vs. wear and tear
Trauma to the knee, such as sustained in a car accident or a sporting incident, may mean you need an immediate knee replacement no matter what your age. The type of knee replacement will depend on what compartments of the knee were damaged.
Wear and tear to the knee from repetitive use or a genetic malformation may also indicate the need for a knee replacement at a much earlier age than the usual. The same applies as for trauma; your doctor will discuss with you whether a partial or full knee replacement is best.
If you do need knee surgery at a young age, you might be able to simply have partial knee surgery to address isolated damage to one or two compartments. Later in your life, when the prosthetic wears out, you and your doctor can decide if it’s time for a full knee replacement.
The lifespan of a knee replacement
If you have knee pain, but it is treatable with conservative methods and you are nearing the age when a knee replacement is more common, you and your doctor may decide to hold off for a few years.
One of the biggest reasons to delay getting a knee replacement is the fact that the internal knee prosthetic won’t last forever. The typical knee replacement will only hold out for 15 to 20 years, depending on your level of activity and the strain you put on your knees.
If you play a sport or work a job that puts more wear and tear on your knees, you could need a second knee replacement sooner rather than later. However, by waiting until you are nearer to retirement age, you may be able to get away with just a single round of surgery.
Wondering if you should go ahead with a knee replacement? Contact our office to make an appointment or book a consultation online today.