[Read Runners, Listen to Your Knees.]
And older knee replacement patients may reap the added benefit of improved balance, according to other research coming out of this year's AAOS meeting. Israeli researchers found that subjects with an average age of 73 who had total knee replacements enjoyed significant improvements in balance, pain, and self-reported quality of life. With age and "as patients get more and more deformity [in the knee joint], it gets more painful," says Figgie, who was not involved in the research. As the study showed, he adds, post-knee replacement patients again have a straight knee and the ability to fully flex the joint. This provides them more stability, which improves their walking and, of particular importance to older folks, reduces the risk of falling. As long as patients are healthy enough to withstand the effects of surgery, he says, they are not too old to have a shot at improved quality of life with a knee replacement.