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Am I too young for a knee replacement?

Health care provider takes notes while she talks with a patient (both wearing masks).

Total knee replacement can be an option for younger people under the right circumstances.

More people in their 40s and 50s are choosing total knee replacement surgery as a treatment for chronic knee pain. There are certainly benefits to knee surgery for patients with severe joint pain. But it's worth knowing about the pros and cons before you make a decision about what's right for you. Here are some questions you might have, with answers from the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons and other experts:

Q. Why might I consider knee replacement surgery now?

A. Some younger people experience knee pain or loss of movement that makes daily activities hard or impossible. If that's the case for you, knee replacement surgery may be worth considering because it can dramatically improve your quality of life.

Q. How long does a new knee joint usually last?

A. Studies have found that most knee replacements last 15 to 20 years. Newer technologies may extend the life of the joint somewhat. But younger knee replacement patients are still more likely to need a revision surgery later in life.

Q. What is a revision surgery?

A. A common reason for a revision surgery is to fix or replace parts of the artificial joint that have worn away over time. In some more serious cases, a replacement knee joint can become infected. If this happens, the joint may need to be replaced entirely.

Q. What are the risks of a revision surgery?

A. Revision surgeries are more complicated than the initial knee replacement. They also come with a higher risk of infection and a longer recovery time. But they can significantly extend the life of a replacement joint.

Q. If I put off surgery, what other treatment options are there?

A. For many younger patients, alternative treatments can help. For instance, pain medications and cortisone injections can help reduce soreness and swelling. So can simple exercise routines and losing weight. Physical therapy is another option for improving knee function.

If you're not ready for surgery, talk to your doctor about other options that might be available.

Reviewed 9/6/2023

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