Ask Dr. Hansen: Separating Arthritis Myths From Facts
We think of arthritis as an old person’s disease, and view knee and hip replacements as procedures reserved for elderly patients. Dr. Hansen talks about the common myths surrounding arthritis, and how these beliefs may prevent younger arthritis patients from enjoying a vibrant active life.
Arthritis myths – Age
“When I was a resident, I had stereotypes about arthritis,” admits Dr. Dane Hansen, a Summit surgeon specializing in treatments for hip and knee arthritis. “I thought of it as an old-age disease affecting inactive patients in their 70s and 80s. I was very wrong.” The perception that arthritis only occurs in older populations just one of many common arthritis myths.
In fact, arthritis can strike patients of all ages—from teens to the elderly. “I’ve treated many dedicated athletes in their 30s and 40s,” says Dr. Hansen. “Some developed arthritis after an injury; others may have developed hip problems at a younger age. They all had one thing in common: they were hoping to continue the activities they loved.”
Patients have misconceptions about arthritis too. Dr. Hansen uses his passion for education to learn about his patients’ beliefs, and help them understand what is possible. “Many patients see arthritis as an old-age disease,” he explains. “If you have arthritis, that must mean you are aging and won’t be able to do the things you want to do anymore. That is a very big misconception.”
Arthritis myths – Joint replacements
MYTH : People fear that a total joint replacement will significantly limit their mobility.
FACT: “Although there are some reasonable limitations,” explains Dr. Hansen, “there are very few things that we discourage people from doing after a joint replacement.”
MYTH :Young patients also have the perception that joint replacements aren’t designed for people under the age of 65.
FACT: “I care for patients who are completely debilitated by arthritis at 40 or 50,” says Dr. Hansen. “They’ve done research or have been advised by friends that they shouldn’t have a joint replacement until they are 65. They believe they are stuck without options for the next 15 to 25 years. Although it is true that the goal is to prolong the time before you require surgery by using medication and conservative treatments, we’ve found that some younger patients can do very well with a joint replacement. It gives them their independence and the ability to reclaim their activity level at a time when they can really enjoy it.”
MYTH : Patients also worry that if they have a joint replacement at a younger age, it won’t last through their life.
FACT: “It’s true that some device parts wear out over time, and that does possibly mean a revision or repeat procedure down the road,” Dr. Hansen explains. “However, I don’t think we are doing justice to these severely limited patients if we tell them to limp around for the next 10 or 20 years. As our understanding grows and technology improves, joint replacement is a treatment option to consider.”
Starting with conservative care
Everyone’s goals are different. For some people, conservative treatments are effective. Others want the opportunity to improve their quality of life at an age when they are able to fully benefit from the greater mobility that joint procedures can provide. At Summit, our doctors are here to help you understand your options and partner with you to design the treatment plan that’s best for you.
More resources for you
- Read about Summit’s prestigious national award: Advanced Certification for Total Hip And Total Knee Replacement Program
- Discover Summit’s services for Arthritis
- Visit the Video Libraries for Arthritis
“Arthritis patients have high expectations for their activity level. With advanced training in minimally invasive surgical techniques and quick-recovery joint replacement, I strive to help my patients return to their fully active lifestyle as quickly as possible.”
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