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The Connection Between Joint Replacements and Heredity

Many people in New York grew up seeing their parents, grandparents, or other older relatives receive joint replacements in their later years. Perhaps you are one of them. Maybe you witnessed a loved one struggle with joint pain and helped them with daily tasks, like getting up stairs or unloading groceries. It’s also possible that you saw a relative gain new experiences and get back to their normal routines after having a joint replacement. With this inside knowledge, you might be wondering if you are also at risk for needing a new or repaired joint in the future. As with most things, it depends. However, there are some studies that suggest genetic variances can make joints weaker and some forms of arthritis can be passed down through generations. As reported by Reuters, “people whose parents had a total knee replacement due to osteoarthritis are more than twice as likely to develop knee pain in midlife as those with no family history of knee surgery.”

So what does this mean for you? If you feel that you are at risk for needing a joint replacement, you can take certain precautions to help postpone the surgery for as long as possible. This includes staying mobile, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight that doesn’t place too much strain on your existing joints. You might also choose to complete smaller-scale procedures, such as injections or a joint repair, before deciding that a total replacement would be helpful for your situation.

The good news is that regardless of your family history, advances in technology have significantly improved the process for receiving a joint replacement. This means that you will not undergo the same strenuous recovery that your parents or grandparents dealt with. In fact, you might be surprised by just how quickly you’ll be back to your favorite activities–and even trying some things you haven’t been able to do for years due to debilitating pain.

One of today’s more popular treatment options is minimally invasive surgery. This technique allows us to complete a replacement with less scarring, shorter healing time, and fewer days in the hospital. At the same time, the quality of the procedure and your results will not be impacted. In fact, you might find yourself walking on your new joint within a few days. In all cases, we do our best to preserve as much of your natural body as possible. We also rely heavily on robotic technologies to help us make the most precise incisions and repairs as possible. It’s really a whole new game compared to when you’re older relatives went under the knife.

If you don’t already know about your family’s medical history regarding osteoarthritis and other joint concerns, take some time to do some research. Ask your aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives what they know and keep a log for your future records. Once you have this information, you can start thinking about your risks and the right path for your personal medical care. If you have any questions about joint replacements or repairs, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to discuss your options and more together.

Patrick A. Meere, M.D., C.M. a board certified, fellowship trained Orthopedic surgeon with over 25 years of clinical experience in the New York, NY area is a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, NYU School of Medicine and the director of the Laboratory for Advanced Arthroplasty Research in Robotics and Sensors at the NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital.

Posted in: Blog, Joint Replacement

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