How Long Does a Hip or Knee Replacement Last?


May 29, 2024


How Long Does a Hip or Knee Replacement Last?

The joints in our bodies help us bend and move so that we may pursue the things we like to do. Knees and hips serve as important intersections in our body – but when you’re experiencing pain in your hips or knees, they often feel more like roadblocks.

Due to age, injury, or osteoarthritis, many people find that their hip or knee joints lose their ability to move well, so they seek treatment to restore their quality of life. Hip and knee replacements have both shown to be effective treatment options for reducing pain and restoring mobility.

Considering surgery leads many patients to ask, “How long will that joint replacement last?”

“While it’s different for everyone, I typically tell my patients who are considering a hip or knee replacement that it’s possible for the joint to last 20 years,” explains Steven Ogden, M.D., a joint care specialist on the medical staff of Texas Health Southwest, who primarily operates at Texas Health Clearfork.

That’s a higher number than patients may have heard in years past, a trend owing a lot to improvements in the manufacturing of the joints, Dr. Ogden says. Artificial joints are made of several materials, with manufacturers employing certain metals and plastics to create hardware approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use in surgical replacement.

“The implants are good enough that most everyone has a great outcome,” Dr. Ogden says of replacement joints, some of which he has seen be with a patient for 20 years or more. “Some people have them for the rest of their lives.”

When to Refurbish a Joint Replacement

Some people who have had a joint replacement may eventually need some additional support for their joint. Trauma, infection, or other complications can sometimes lead to needing a tune-up for some people’s parts.

“You can think of a joint like a knee like you would think about the tires on your car. Based on how much you drive and how old the tires are, you might need to replace them before you have a blowout,” Dr. Ogden says.

Sometimes, just a portion of the joint may need replacing.

“We can refurbish parts of a joint – for example, the plastic part – to keep the joint in good working order before the metal gets damaged,” Dr. Ogden says of the procedure, which he notes is not as complex as the initial replacement. Recovery time for the patient is less than the initial replacement, too, he notes.

“When we replace the plastic, we are typically not cutting into the bone,” Dr. Ogden says, “and you might get another 20 years of use out of it.”

The care provided at Texas Health hospitals for joint replacement surgery is designed to help you heal quickly and comfortably. To help patients recover and return to a healthy and active life, Texas Health also provides rehabilitation services with dedicated equipment and therapists who specialize in joint health and wellness.

Special Considerations for Caregivers of Older Adults with Dementia

For family caregivers caring for older adults who may have had joint replacement surgery more than 20 years ago and who currently may have dementia, special considerations are necessary. Here are some tips to ensure their joint health and overall well-being:

  1. Monitor Mobility and Pain Levels: Keep a close eye on the mobility and pain levels of your loved one. Look for signs of discomfort, limping, or reluctance to move, which may indicate joint issues.

  2. Regular Check-Ups: Ensure regular check-ups with their physician. It’s essential to have consistent medical evaluations to monitor the condition of the joint replacement and address any concerns promptly.

  3. Rehabilitation and Exercise: Encourage gentle exercises and physical therapy as recommended by healthcare professionals. This can help maintain joint function and overall mobility.

  4. Assist with Daily Activities: Provide assistance with daily activities that may be challenging due to joint pain or reduced mobility. Simple adaptations in the home, like grab bars and non-slip mats, can enhance safety and ease of movement.

  5. Pain Management: Work with healthcare providers to manage pain effectively. This may include medications, physical therapy, or other interventions tailored to their needs.

  6. Cognitive Considerations: Be mindful of the cognitive challenges associated with dementia. Clear communication, patience, and creating a calm environment can help in managing their overall health and joint care.

Work with Your Physician

The best way to stay on top of your joint health is to work with your physician to set a screening schedule most appropriate for you and your joint replacement. For specialty joint care, Texas Health has a network of joint care specialists who can diagnose the source of joint pain and provide you with a range of options to treat your condition.

“For my patients, I advise getting diagnostic tests like X-rays done every 5 or 10 years,” Dr. Ogden says.

Sometimes, patients may experience pain or swelling in the joint that will need to be evaluated by their physician. Other times, the joint may just feel unstable or “a little wobbly,” Dr. Ogden explains. “Some people may not even feel pain. Then, over time, they experience pain and inflammation from the debris and then they start experiencing pain.”

It’s a good idea to stay in touch with your joint care surgeon to stay on top of any maintenance needed for your replacement. And remember, maintenance does not always mean replacement.

Source: Texas Health Resources Blog

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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