How Long Do Hip and Knee Replacements Really Last?
We have seen many patients over the years in considerable pain with knee or hip arthritis who have been told “You need surgery but you are too young”, with most replacements being performed on those between 60 and 80 years of age. The quality of life of those younger than that, and therefore their ability to remain active may be considerably impacted but surgery was still thought to be unwise as they would need further surgery later in their lives so they were usually advised that it would be better to wait until they are older.
Therefore a lot of people have hobbled on for years, in pain and becoming ever less mobile and able to get around as freely as they would like to in the belief that they must wait as long as possible before they undergo surgery.
Do the facts back this though? Until now there was very little data on the success of hip and knee replacement, so doctors often found it difficult to answer questions accurately about how long patients’ replacements may last. They were only able to say how long they were designed to last rather than basing their predictions on actual evidence from patients who had received replacements.
Recently, a study in the Lancet looked at reports from six countries who held at least 15 years of data – Australia, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. UK was not included as its record of these patients did not go back far enough but the researchers said that findings in UK from smaller studies showed similar results, which were the following:
Full Knee Replacements
93% lasted 15 years, 90% lasted 20 years and 82% lasted 25 years.
Partial Knee Replacements
77% lasted 15 years. 90% lasted 20 years and 70% lasted 25 years.
89% lasted 15 years, 70% lasted 20 years and 58% lasted 25 years.
Why do they fail?
Infection is usually the cause and to a lesser extent wear and tear and more rarely because they have broken.
This research means that hip replacements should be offered to younger more active patients to relieve their pain and keep them active rather than waiting until they have lost the ability to walk.
If you have been in pain and stiffening gradually and being less active in the belief that you are just too young to consider a replacement, it may be time to reconsider and get your life back!
Think about those figures above and discuss with your GP or surgeon whether that anticipated wait really is necessary for you.
And one little thought to take with you – for every 1 lb of weight you lose, it removes 4 lbs pressure from your knees … if they hurt do you really need that chocolate??!!