Medical advances have made joint surgery successful for many people who have joint problems, often from osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or other types of arthritis. But some people still have concerns. Here are some common misconceptions about joint surgery and explanations of the reality.

1. I’m too young for joint surgery. Some people believe they have to endure their joint pain for years until they reach an age when replacement surgery is appropriate. Where does this idea come from?

 In the past, typical joint implants lasted 10 to 15 years. Surgeons were reluctant to perform joint replacement surgery in people who were relatively young or not severely affected by pain or decreased mobility, because it was expected that they would outlive the lifespan of the new joint. Younger people are likely to be more active and mobile after the operation, and they would have to have the surgery again once the replacement joint wore out. Many surgeons were opposed to the idea of performing a surgery in a patient, just to repeat the procedure a decade or so later.

Now, however, advances in medical technology have improved the durability of artificial joints so that they last longer. New materials for implant parts and new techniques for adhering those parts to the joint itself also have improved the quality and stamina of the replacements. In addition, doctors are now advising joint replacement sooner for younger patients, who can enjoy the benefits of a more active lifestyle as a result of surgery.

 2. Surgery will cure my arthritis. Joint replacement can relieve some of the symptoms of arthritis – it can help ease pain and improve your ability or move and function – but it is not a cure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis at this time. Surgery does not affect the disease process of OA, RA or common arthritis-related diseases.

Even if you have joint surgery, you will still need to manage your arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight, staying strong and flexible through exercise, taking medications that your doctor prescribes and keeping up with your overall health. And you might continue to experience some degree of pain and limited mobility, so you may still need some medications.

The fact that surgery can’t cure arthritis is a factor in the decision to have surgery for many people with progressive forms of arthritis, such as RA. Because the disease will continue to affect the body after surgery, it may limit the benefits someone with RA will experience from joint surgery.