A new survey has revealed that patients are no longer waiting until they are elderly before choosing to have a hip or knee replacement.
The 2009 Hip and Knee Replacement Survey produced by produced by hipandkneenetwork.co.uk shows that patients are generally getting younger and tend to describe themselves as 'quite active'.
Data collected between September 2008 and February 2009 show that 56 per cent of patients were over 60, 27 per cent between the ages of 51 and 60, and 12 per cent aged between 41 and 50 years.
Steven Young, an orthopaedic surgeon on the hip and knee network medical panel, said: "These findings are generally consistent with what I see in my surgery.
"It has become much more common to see relatively young people considering joint replacement surgery. As a result patients' priorities are changing and post-operative expectations are also rising."
The survey also showed that 21 per cent of respondents had undergone hip or knee replacement surgery after experiencing pain for less than 12 months.
However, 22 per cent admitted that they had endured more than eight years of pain before opting for surgery - a finding Mr Young described as "surprising".
He claimed: "There is no need for such a high proportion of patients to wait over eight years before resolving their joint pain. Most operations take place 18 weeks between referral and surgery."