Doctor's Answers (2)
As Dr Henry mentions, age is but a number and should not impact on whether you are suitable for an operation. Nevertheless, your other medical conditions may play a part in terms of anaesthetic risk and post-operative recovery. If you have exhausted all avenues of treatment for your knee, then it is definitely worth considering surgery.
However, if your pain is mild and does not significantly impact on your function, then its worth considering other options such as viscosupplementation, physiotherapy and weight loss. Some people are now having PRP injections for knee osteoarthritis - while the evidence is debated, it is still something to consider.
Age is just a number, if your mom has been taking care of herself well. The average life span for a Singaporean woman is now 86 years old, according to the Singapore Census 2010.
I’ve known patients who are not even 40 years old, and have lost 3 limbs (both legs and right hand) due to poorly controlled diabetes.
There are also many patients who are barely 40+ years old, but failed to take care of themselves. Consequently, they suffered from kidney failures, strokes and heart attacks.
This is the concept of physiological age, when your body is being kept at a optimal condition.
Your mom’s 70 year old body might be stronger than a poorly taken care 40 years old body.
And if she has been taking care of herself well, it is very likely that she will live longer than average. It also means that she MAY need to suffer from knee pain for another 10 – 20 years. It is certainly not fun having to deal with pain for the rest of your life.
Knee replacement surgery is the most reliable treatment option for end stage knee arthritis in the elderly population, with the success rate exceeding 95% in experienced hands.
It effectively removes the pain, and restores the quality of life.
I’ve always used this analogy when I’m counselling my patients – “humans are just like cars, the knee joints are like the tyres. If your car engine and everything else are still fine, what would you do when the car tyres are worn out?”
I’m sure everyone would choose to replace the tyres, rather than writing off the car.
Hence, if your mom has been taking care of herself well (the car engine is still strong), I hope she won’t write off her car (or your “Kah” in Hokkien) when her tyres (knee joints) get worn out.
A new set of tyres (knee replacements) will definitely bring a new leash of life.
Of course, doctors will also check on your pre op fitness with a full thorough check up before proceeding with surgery.