When knee replacements began to be used in the early ‘70s it was the common thinking that they would last maybe 10 years before needing to be replaced. For this reason, knee replacements were commonly only used for elderly patients. Over the years, there have been huge technological advancements in a wide variety of areas. Even though many improvements have occurred in surgical technique alone, it is not the only area which has undergone major changes. For instance there have been many improvements and advancements in the materials, design and fixation which have occurred which all work together to increase the durability of any type of joint replacement. In some patients, an orthopedic surgeon placed the knee prostheses as long ago as 30 to 40 years. But how long a knee replacement lasts varies greatly from one patient to another depending on many factors.
There can be several things that play a role in how long a knee replacement will last. Since younger people are having the procedure done it is important that knee replacements last a lot longer. A person who has a knee replacement procedure in their 50s can most likely expect that they could require another one in their lifetime. How active the patient is can also play a major role in how long the prosthetic lasts. Some patients may not be able to participate in certain activities as they can cause pain or discomfort. Other activities may not cause so much discomfort, but they can put extra stress on the joint and cause the parts to wear out faster. The patient weight may also play a major role in the longevity of knee replacements. When an individual weighs more it causes more stress on the joint. In order to ensure that the knee replacement lasts longer it will be very important for the patient to maintain a normal or reasonable body weight.
Knee replacements have many differences and there are six different kinds in all. Plus there are various materials that can be used to make the components. The varying implant designs, materials used and the way it is fitted into the joint can all play roles in the longevity of the implant. The NJ orthopedic surgeon can offer advice and counsel each patient on which type or knee replacement is needed and which one is the best for any given situation. He will choose the type that will work best depending on the specific needs of the patient including how well the ligaments can provide support and how much bone loss as occurred due to conditions such as arthritis.
With all of the improvements in the medical field over the last decade or two, knee replacements have become much more durable and many people who have had a knee replacement procedure as long as 30 to 40 years ago are still able to be active. Since the procedure began, the limit on how old a patient should be before a knee replacement should be considered has pretty much gone away. Wear and tear has always been one of the main concerns but has become less of a concern as materials have improved. The largest problem with knee replacements is that they can become loose. Patients can help prevent this from occurring as often by avoiding repetitive heavy lifting, staying physically fit, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding kneeling and avoiding high impact sports like skiing, basketball or running. In cases where a knee replacement begins to be painful or uncomfortable it is important to talk about it with the orthopedic surgeon.