Think again. Just a few weeks ago, Ali Saleh Hussein, a 98-year old patient from India, had his left knee completely replaced. Suffering from osteoarthritis for over a decade and with the full support of his physician, he finally decided to alleviate the pain through TKR. At last check, he’s recovering just fine and according to his surgeon, Dr Rajani, he has knees of a spry 60 year old…shouldn’t we all be so lucky!
While there’s no official record for the oldest knee replacement patient in the world, the overwhelming majority of patients are under 70. Folks over 80 make up less than 5% of total TKR/PKR patients. And while it’s true (relatively) younger patients tend to heal faster, there are plenty of other factors to consider when it comes to knee replacement qualification. Some of those include family history, blood pressure, previous surgeries (elsewhere on the body), current medication, mobility, etc.
And as far as age goes, most surgeons agree that your physiological age is vastly more important than your chronological one. If/when arthritis or other causative factors take hold, they can dramatically effect the health and usage of any joint, especially the knee. If anything, age just clouds the picture. For example, a 50-year old, lifetime marathon runner can develop early onset arthritis solely from overuse. However, that same runner could also dramatically strengthen their bones and blood vessels through constant exercise, providing an efficient delivery of nutrients to their knees and never require surgery or medication.
What causes the difference? For the most part, genetics, nutrition and regimine. So, if your close relatives tend to have knee problems, make sure you give your joints plenty of rest between strenuous exercise. And I can’t stress this one enough…eat right. Mix in at least 5 different fruits and green leafy vegetables a day….decades from now, you’ll be glad you did.
So, if you’re interested in knee replacement, don’t let age restrict your options. Even if you’re just curious, it never hurts to schedule an appointment (preferably with an MD who specializes in exercise physiology). And if you don’t like what you hear, get a second opinion. Remember, they’re YOUR knees – make sure you have all the info you need to make a sound decision you’ll be content with decades from now.