One of the biggest detriments to your quality of life can be joint pain. Joint pain can keep you from doing many of the activities you love (like hiking, skiing, or dancing), and even grow so severe that daily tasks become too painful. If joint pain is keeping you from enjoying your life to the fullest, a knee replacement could help you return to the things you love.
A knee replacement, also known as a knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure that can relieve knee pain by replacing damaged bone and tissue with an artificial joint. Knee replacements are highly successful, with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reporting that 90% of patients experience a significant reduction in pain. Due to the overwhelming success of this treatment, over one million Americans now receive a knee replacement each year.
But how do you know if you need a knee replacement? As with any major medical procedure, you should consult with your doctor before making a decision. However, there are certain signs you can look out for that tell you it might be time for a knee replacement.
Signs You May Need a Knee Replacement
You suffer from arthritis
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can result in the deterioration of cartilage in the knee joint. When the destruction of cartilage is severe enough, non-operative treatments may not be able to adequately relieve pain and restore your quality of life. In those cases, a knee replacement may be recommended to provide lasting relief.
You experience severe pain, swelling, or stiffness in your knee
This is the one of the most telling signs you may need a knee replacement. The stiffness and swelling you experience is caused by inflamed tissues in your knee, which are removed during knee replacement surgery. Because the knee replacement will also resolve whatever issue was irritating those tissues in the first place, you will experience long-lasting relief.
Other treatments aren’t helping
A knee replacement is a major surgery, so it is recommended to treat your knee pain with more conservative options first. There are a variety of non-operative treatments for knee pain, including physical therapy, anti-inflammatory or pain medication, or steroid injections. If you’ve worked with your doctor to try these other treatments but your pain hasn’t improved, it may be time to consider knee arthroplasty.
Your pain prevents you from performing daily activities, working, or socializing
Minor aches and pains that don’t disrupt your daily life usually aren’t cause for a knee replacement. However, if your pain is so severe that you have trouble getting out of bed, walk around the house, or go to work, then it is definitely time to consider a knee replacement. The goal of knee replacement surgery is to restore your quality of life so you can get back to enjoying the things you love.
You feel pain even while trying to rest or sleep
Moderate or severe pain that lingers long after you’ve stopped moving is another sign that the damage to your joint is significant enough to warrant knee arthroplasty. This means the tissue in your knee is so inflamed that even resting doesn’t provide temporary relief. This can lead to a serious reduction in your quality of life, especially if the pain interferes with your sleep.
Who Should Wait to Get a Knee Replacement?
Although waiting too long to get a knee replacement can cause you to live with unnecessary pain, rushing to surgery under the wrong circumstances can lead to negative outcomes. Some people who experience knee pain should wait before considering knee arthroplasty.
The most important reason to hold off on surgery is if you haven’t exhausted other treatment options. Most surgeons agree that surgery should only happen after non-operative treatments have failed to resolve the problem. If you are experiencing knee pain, first work with your doctor to see if other treatment options relieve your symptoms.
Another major reason to wait for a knee replacement is if your body would have trouble coping with a major surgery. If you have weak thigh muscles, open sores or ulcers near your knee, or a condition that weakens your immune system, you may be at risk for surgical complications.
I Think I May Need a Knee Replacement, What Should I Do?
The first step to determining if you should get a knee replacement is to visit your doctor. If they haven’t already, they will ask questions about your symptoms, investigate non-operative treatments, and examine your joint through an x-ray or MRI. A doctor can also properly assess your risk for infections or complications.
Once a medical professional has determined a knee replacement is right for you, they will work with you to decide on the best timing, any pre-operation steps you need to take, and a post-operation recovery plan to help you enjoy the freedom of a healthy joint as soon as possible!
Learn how Griffin Hospital combines advanced technology like the 3D Mako system and expertly trained physicians to produce the best surgical outcome for your knee replacement.