With the advancing age, the incidence of health problems also increases. In India, apart from vision-related conditions, diabetes, hypertension, and degenerative joint conditions may be common in the elderly.
The community-based studies have reported that there is approximately 44% prevalence of arthritis in the elderly, with pain, stiffness, and inability to walk comfortably being the chief symptoms.
The reason being, with age, having accumulated several stress-related factors throughout the life of an individual, the repair mechanisms of the body slowly start declining. Moreover, old age is also associated with wear and tear of structures in our body, thereby resulting in degenerative arthritic conditions.
The knee joint is most common in osteoarthritis (OA) and happens due to cartilage degradation. The knee is a weight-bearing joint and has a crucial role in horizontal (walking, running) and vertical (jumping) movements. As the age advances, there are changes in muscle mass surrounding the joint structure as well as cell and matrix-related changes inside the joint tissue which lead to degeneration.
Moreover, loss of bone structure with age and other co-existing factors such as obesity, traumatic injuries, and others, contribute to OA of the knee.
In the early stages of knee pain and stiffness can be treated with medications and exercise. However, for those who have not obtained relief from non-surgical treatments, joint replacement surgery must be considered.
Most elders avoid discussing joint replacement surgery due to fear of dependent living, and unassured treatment outcomes.
Most doubts about surgery are due to misleading information. Explain to them that, with technological and material related advances, the knee joint replacement techniques has improved tremendously.
Approximately 85% of procedural success rates are reported, and the results last up to 20 years following the replacement surgery. Total knee replacement surgery is considered among the safest, effective procedures. With the rise in awareness programmes, India has seen an annual increase in the total number of knee replacement surgeries from 5000 to 65,000 (based on a 2013 report).
Dos and Don’ts after Knee Replacement Surgery
Diabetes, hypertension, infectious diseases, the immune-compromised status, or others, may be prevalent in the elderly: Keep these under optimal control as they may interfere with healing.
Maintain a hygienic environment and a wholesome diet to minimize the chances of infections and help boost immunity.
Let the body adjust with prostheses: Do not start prolonged walking, sitting cross-legged immediately. Follow the rehabilitation protocol as advised by your physiotherapist.
Ensure maintenance of optimum body weight: Do not over-stress the artificial joint!
By maintaining overall health and a proper lifestyle, results of knee replacement (pain, ease of movement, and daily activities) can be extended.