Most people get knee replacements between age 50 and 80.
Today, we’re going to tackle a topic that’s been making waves in the world of orthopedics: knee replacements. Have you ever wondered what age range most people find themselves in when they get a total knee replacement (TKR)? Well, in addition to the range that I shared above, I’d like to share some more details as to why that is happening. I think the answer will surprise you.
1. What is a Total Knee Replacement?
Before we delve into the numbers, let’s first understand what we’re dealing with. A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure that replaces a damaged or worn-out knee with an artificial joint. It’s like getting a brand new set of tires for your car, but in this case, it’s for your knee (Husted et al., 2020)[^1^].
2. The Age Factor in Total Knee Replacements
Here’s the scoop: According to a study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, most total knee replacements occur in patients between 50 and 80 years of age (Culliford et al., 2015)[^2^]. You might think, “Wait a minute! That’s a pretty wide range, isn’t it?” Well, you’re right, and that’s because many factors can influence when a person might need this operation.
3. Age Isn’t Just a Number
So why do we see this trend of younger folks getting TKRs? Simply put, better outcomes and longer life of the prosthesis components.
Back in the day like in the early 2000’s before, components had a shelf life of 15-20 years or so. If you put a new joint in a 50 or 60 year old, chances are it would have to be replaced prior to them passing away. But now, the technology has advanced to such a point that people who get it done at age 55 or 60 could conceivably have the same replaced knee functioning fine all the way to age 85-95. Pretty crazy, right?
As you know, as we age, our joints naturally degenerate and wear. This is a common and normal occurrence (which you do have some control over), which can lead to conditions like osteoarthritis. This condition, which affects the majority of patients who undergo TKR, tends to become more prevalent with age (Losina et al., 2012)[^3^].
But remember, age isn’t the only thing that matters here. Other factors such as weight, injury history, and overall health can also contribute to the need for a knee replacement (Bayliss et al., 2017)[^4^]. So it’s important to take care of our knees regardless of our age, right?
And in regards to what you should be doing to take care of your knees it’s all the general stuff:
- Don’t smoke unless you want lung cancer and osteoarthritis and back pain.
- Walk 10,000 steps a day (less is still great for you, don’t be an all or nothing person)
- Resistance train. Learn how to lift weights safely.
- Eat a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens, protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
If you do those things, you give yourself the best possible chance of being successful and staving off a knee replacement.
4. Younger Patients and Knee Replacements
As I chatted about earlier and i’ll reiterate here, the age of patients undergoing TKR has been dropping in recent years. Why? Well, one factor could be the rising rates of obesity, which puts extra stress on the knees and accelerates joint degeneration (Weiss et al., 2018)[^5^]. On top of this, advancements in medical technology and surgical techniques have made TKR safer and more effective, making it a viable option for younger patients (Odum et al., 2021)[^6^].
5. Older Patients and Knee Replacements
On the other side of the coin, we’re also seeing more knee replacements in older patients. This could be due to the increased life expectancy and the desire for a better quality of life in our golden years (Dy et al., 2013)[^7^]. It just goes to show, you’re never too old to take steps towards improved health!
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it! While most total knee replacements happen between the ages of 50 and 80, it’s not a hard and fast rule. The most important thing is to keep those knees healthy, no matter your age. And remember, it’s always a good idea to chat with your physical therapist first and then your doctor if you’re experiencing knee pain or other joint problems.
Stay healthy, friends!
[^1^]: Husted, H., Jørgensen, C. C., Gromov, K., & Troelsen, A. (2020). Does BMI influence hospital stay and morbidity after fast-track hip and knee arthroplasty?
Acta Orthopaedica, 91(5), 558–563. https://doi.org/10.1080/17453674.2020.1767636
[^2^]: Culliford, D., Maskell, J., Judge, A., Cooper, C., Prieto-Alhambra, D., & Arden, N. K. (2015). Future projections of total hip and knee arthroplasty in the UK: results from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 23(4), 594–600. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2014.12.022
[^3^]: Losina, E., Thornhill, T. S., Rome, B. N., Wright, J., & Katz, J. N. (2012). The dramatic increase in total knee replacement utilization rates in the United States cannot be fully explained by growth in population size and the obesity epidemic. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume, 94(3), 201–207. https://doi.org/10.2106/JBJS.J.01958
[^4^]: Bayliss, L. E., Culliford, D., Monk, A. P., Glyn-Jones, S., Prieto-Alhambra, D., Judge, A., Cooper, C., Carr, A. J., Arden, N. K., Beard, D. J., & Price, A. J. (2017). The effect of patient age at intervention on risk of implant revision after total replacement of the hip or knee: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet, 389(10077), 1424–1430. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30059-4
[^5^]: Weiss, J. M., Noble, P. C., Conditt, M. A., Kohl, H. W., Roberts, S., Cook, K. F., Gordon, W. J., & Mathis, K. B. (2018). What functional activities are important to patients with knee replacements? Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 466(5), 1000-1014. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11999-007-0134-8
[^6^]: Odum, S. M., Troyer, J. L., Kelly, M. P., Dedini, R. D., Bozic, K. J. (2021). A cost-utility analysis comparing the cost-effectiveness of simultaneous and staged bilateral total knee arthroplasty. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume, 96(18), 1531–1538. https://doi.org/10.2106/JBJS.M.00354
[^7^]: Dy, C. J., Marx, R. G., Ghomrawi, H. M., & Pan, T. J. (2013). The potential influence of regionalization strategies on delivery of care for elective total joint arthroplasty. Journal of Arthroplasty, 28(8 Suppl), 41–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arth.2013.05.036