Healthwatch 16: Knee Replacement Recipients Are Getting Younger

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Lots of people deal with chronic knee pain. Sometimes it's arthritis, sometimes it's overuse. In any case, knee pain can really limit your activity.

One active woman from Lackawanna County found that happening in her 40s and says she wasn't willing to live with not doing what she wanted to do.

The golf course is where you'll typically find Beth Sedlak. She's a golf instructor at Glen Oak Country Club, outside Clarks Summit, in Lackawanna County. She's also the coach of four softball teams and a mom to three girls.

Active, for sure, but check out that knee: she had a knee replacement at 46 years old.

"Last spring, I was squatting down to help put catcher's gear on one of my 6-year-old players and just couldn't get back up," Sedlak recalled.

Beth says an old injury nagged her. She treated whatever pain she had with an over-the-counter medication or maybe some ice and heat.

Last summer, she talked with Dr. John Doherty from Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Scranton.

"People aren't willing to wait to get relief. They've got children. They want to participate in their children's lives. They can't get around," said Dr. Doherty.

Dr. Doherty says knee and hip replacements are quite common and getting more so for those even in their 30s and 40s.

"In younger people, we'll sometimes scope a knee to see if we can clean things out and buy some time, even though we know there's arthritis there. Historically, it works very well but doesn't cure arthritis," the doctor said.

A scope did buy Beth a few years, but in the end, Dr. Doherty recommended a knee replacement surgery.

It took a few weeks of intense physical therapy last year, but Beth is back to doing what she loves -- maybe too much, she admits.

"Might be doing more than I should be in a day because I feel so good and I'm not afraid."

And instead of offering advice to those who might be in her position, she'll offer what she heard from her physical therapy group most of them, in their 60s and 70s.

"I think everybody in there looked at me and said, 'Boy, I wish I would have done it sooner,'" Beth said.

Joint replacement surgery is not the best choice for everyone. Chronic pain can come in a lot of forms and be treated in different ways.

If you have questions for Dr. Doherty or other Geisinger Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine doctors, there is an event that might help you Wednesday night.

You can get more information and register for the event in Scranton by clicking here.