Today I saw a woman with terrible activity limiting knee pain with bone on bone arthritis on her X-rays. A common scenario I see 10 times a day. We discussed her options of nonsurgical treatments as well as knee replacement surgery. I carefully explained all the details about the vast treatment options available to her. Finally, she sighed and asked ‘but Dr. Hacker, am I too old for all this ?”
A decision for surgery or against surgery is based on many factors beyond how severe one’s arthritic condition appears on an X-ray. Patients must be treated as a whole person, with concerns about who will help care for them after a surgery, how quickly they will recover, and how much improvement they can expect. Before planning any surgery, I have patients return to their primary care physician and ask for a complete medical workup to assess the overall ‘risk’ to having the surgery.
One’s ‘age’ is just a number, not an assessment of overall health or surgical risk. Many factors go into this, from health of your heart, to ability to walk, and motivation level. I see patients in their 90’s that look healthier than their 60 year old children.
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When we talk about your joint pain, and the options that you may consider, I need to have a good understanding of your overall health to help you make the right choice, now just your age.
You are only too old if you feel old. I welcome your thoughts.
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