Osteoarthritis: Low Life Time Risk for Joint Replacement

old couple smiling

Joint Replacement

What is the risk that you will require a joint replacement following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis? Well the answer is relatively low. One of the biggest fears is that osteoarthritis (OA) represents a gradual wear and tear of joint. Therefore increasing the chance of surgery and even replacement. However the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. Of 48,311 patients diagnosed by their GP with knee OA only 2,561 underwent knee replacement. Of 15,105 patients with hip arthritis only 1,247 had surgery.  The lifetime risk with OA for joint replacement with knees and hips was less than a 1/3 and 1/6 respectively.

Keeping Joints Health

The greatest risk from a diagnosis of OA is that it creates a lot of fear. If patients experience pain with an activity then they tend to avoid it,  assuming it’s bad for them. This will inevitably lead to more de-conditioning. The issue is pain is likely to increase with avoidance. Joints will come more sensitive, more activities become painful … where does it stop? It is important to understand that joints love exercise. They like to move around. It’s how they get the their nutrition! Movement allows the synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. It helps to reduce inflammation through measured mechanical loading.

Osteoarthritis is Not Wear and Tear

OA is not a wear and tear process of the joints. Although many health care professionals (HCPs) think that it is. In fact it is more a biologically mediated inflammatory process. Exercise has been proven to be the most effective form of treatment with early and moderate arthritis. Improving the good chemical compounds in the joints. Keeping the cartilage and the joint healthy. Patients need to be as active as they can. Whether its cross-fit, cross-trainer, hill walking or running. Running has been shown not to increase the risk of OA in knees.

A New Hope

There are numerous accounts of individuals with a diagnosis of OA reducing/resolving their pain with exercise. Living happy active lifestyles.

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