New Guidelines for New JointsTotal joint replacements have been used for over 30 years now. New hip and knee joints are the most common. Nearly a quarter of a million hip and knee joint replacements are done every year in the United States. This number is expected to continue going up. This is because adults in the United States are living longer and are more active.
Researchers tell us that everyone, including older adults, should exercise and increase their daily activity. This is the new way to have good health and to prevent disease. However, today's new joints may not be able to hold up under the new activity levels. New and better materials for these joints are being studied to take care of this problem.
In the meantime, some guidelines for activity after joint replacement are needed. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic and other centers are trying to provide these. They know that patients can have 10 to 20 years of good function from a new hip or knee joint. Doctors say that patients should be told that wearing of the joint surface is linked to activity level.
Until more is known, doctors generally tell patients that low impact and low contact activities are the best. Athletic activities should be avoided until the muscles are strong enough. It is recommended that adults with a new joint not join in competitive sports.
Doctors usually tell patients with a new joint to follow some careful guidelines. This is especially true for younger, middle-aged patients. The patient must be careful during the first 10 years after replacement. Problems don't usually occur until then, but over doing it during that time is directly linked to joint failure.
Mathew A. Nicholls, MD, PhD, et al. Athletic Activity After Total Joint Replacement. In Orthopedics. November 2002. Vol. 25. No. 11. Pp. 1283-1287.
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