Some people unnecessarily delay knee replacement surgery due to fear of postoperative pain, loss of knee function, and other possible complications. Knee replacement surgery is performed to help relieve knee pain and improve range of motion. Plus, advances in knee surgery make it possible to heal and recover quickly after knee surgery.
Young and middle-aged individuals have much to gain from knee surgery in terms of faster return to work and maintaining an active lifestyle. Elderly individuals benefit from undergoing knee surgery by regaining independence to perform activities of daily living and enjoying a better quality of life.
There are several conservative treatments for degenerative arthritis in your knees. These include weight loss, activity modification and oral anti-inflammatory medication. When these treatments fail, you can inquire about the use of injections to improve your pain and function. At some point, all of these non-operative interventions may no longer provide adequate relief of your symptoms and you may begin to lose function. If there is functional decline in the knee and your doctor says that you may be a candidate for a knee replacement, delaying the procedure might result in:
- Deterioration of the knee joint due to uneven stresses caused by injury or disease
- Loss of the cushioning cartilage and increased friction between the edges of bone when moving the knee
- Worsening knee pain
- Restricted mobility
- Improper functioning of the knee ligaments and loss of muscle mass
When is the right time to consider knee replacement surgery? When you have undergone an adequate course of the non-operative treatments mentioned above and you continue to have significant pain or loss of function, you should consider discussing knee replacement with your orthopaedic surgeon. In other words, when your quality of life is affected on a daily basis specifically because of the knee pain, such that you are no longer doing the things that you enjoy (i.e. walking, golfing, gardening, skiing, etc.), you should consider knee replacement surgery.
If you are relatively healthy except for a problem in your knee and you’ve tried conservative therapy, you may likely benefit from knee replacement. Feel free to contact us for an evaluation and to see if you are a candidate.