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Published on September 21, 2012

Not Your Father’s Joint Replacement Surgery

Once upon a time, joint replacement surgery was only something for really old folks, senior citizens whose bodies were breaking down.

But now, younger and younger people are getting new knees and new hips, and thriving after surgery. A study earlier this year showed a dramatic increase in knee replacement surgery.

“People of all ages want to continue healthy, active lifestyles into their golden years,” says Frank Giammattei., M.D., chief of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “Many times this is not possible if they have incapacitating knee or hip arthritis. Going ahead with joint replacement surgery offers them a chance to pursue the activities that make their lives meaningful.”

Joint replacement becomes necessary when a hip or a knee simply wears out. Osteoarthritis is the main culprit, often caused by a combination of genetics and overuse and/or bearing too much weight. Doctors caution that, as good as the surgical options have become, people need to understand that it is still major surgery.

With that in mind, people need to take care of their hips and knees well before they reach the point where surgery is needed.  This means exercise, preferably a low-impact fitness regimen that includes cycling or swimming rather than running. Being in good shape has the very important added benefit of meaning that your joints don’t have to support as much weight; obesity is a contributing factor for a lot of joint problems.

But even with an active lifestyle that helps to maintain joint health, the body can wear down. However, for active Baby Boomers who don’t want to slow down even as their joints begin to give out, the good news is that surgery has become a more viable option over the last couple of decades.

“Joint replacement is a better option today than it was 20 years ago,” Dr. Giammattei says. “Better designs and better materials make joint replacement an attractive option in much younger, more active patients.”

That’s good news for Boomers, a generation actively committed to maintaining its youth for as long as possible.

“For Baby Boomers whose lives are compromised by disabling pain, they will do almost anything to get themselves back into the game,” Dr. Giammattei says.  “As more people hear of friends and family who do well at a relatively young age with joint replacement, the procedure is becoming quite accepted.”

As people move through middle age, the complaint to their peers is always the same – it’s hard getting old. The body doesn’t bounce back the way it once did, and the aches and pains seem omnipresent. But better joint replacement options give something that everyone needs as they grow older – hope.

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive total joint care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to joint replacement surgery, the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership will determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit https://www.crozerkeystone.org/services/orthopedics/form/.

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Crozer-Keystone Health System

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