Is it time for a knee replacement?
Knee replacement is one of the most common surgeries in the U.S.—doctors perform more than 600,000 operations per year.
Also called knee arthroplasty, knee replacement surgery is generally considered safe and effective. It can relieve pain for people whose arthritis has caused serious knee deterioration and can allow them to become more active again.
Any surgery, though, comes with risks and requires a period of recovery and rehabilitation, so it’s wise to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Here are five questions to ask when deciding whether to have a knee replacement.
1. How much pain are you in, and how much is your knee problem limiting your daily activities? If you have severe pain and have trouble walking, climbing stairs, or getting in and out a chair, it may be time to consider knee replacement. Knee surgery recovery itself is painful, though, so if your pain is more moderate, other options may be the best choice.
2. Can other less-invasive options relieve the pain? Medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, and procedures such as steroid or hyaluronic acid injections provide relief for some people. Less-invasive types of surgery may also help in some cases. If you’ve already tried these alternatives, and they aren’t working, surgery may be the best choice.
3. Are you healthy enough to handle the surgery? Your doctor may hesitate to operate if you have other serious medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that make complications more likely. Extreme obesity and previous infections in the knees or hips may also lower your chances for a successful operation and recovery. Your doctor will take all these factors into consideration on a case-by-case basis in deciding whether it makes sense to go ahead with a knee replacement.
4. Do you have realistic expectations? You won’t be running a marathon after knee replacement. That much pavement pounding would damage the artificial joint, so running, tennis, and other high-impact activities will be off-limits for the rest of your life. There are lots of things you will be able to do, though, as long as the rest of your health is OK—you can go on long walks, golf, dance, cycle, and swim, for instance.
You also need to be realistic about the recovery process. You’ll need to endure several weeks of recovery and faithfully perform the physical therapy your doctor recommends to get the best results.
5. What are the pros and cons of waiting? Most replacement knees last at least 15 years, but if you live long enough, the artificial joint will probably eventually wear out. You can get a second replacement, called a “revision” surgery.
The success rate the second time around, while good, is not quite as high as with first-time knee replacements, so if you’re relatively young and your pain is not severe, you may want to hold off. That said, sometimes knee replacement is the best option even for younger people.
There can also be drawbacks to waiting. You may not want to wait if your knee problems are causing issues in other parts of your body—for instance, if your knee pain or deformity is causing you to move in such a way that causes back or hip pain. Also, if knee pain is keeping you so sedentary that the muscles around your joints are becoming weak and your bones are becoming thin, it may be better to operate sooner rather than later.
If you’re wondering if knee replacement is right for you, feel free to contact one of our orthopedic specialists for an evaluation.
Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey, and our staff consists of board-certified surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in orthopedics, sports medicine, spinal care, podiatry, urology, pain management, ENT, hand surgery, lithotripsy, brachytherapy, GYN, and laser surgery.
Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey, and our staff consists of board certified surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in orthopedics, sports medicine, spinal care, podiatry, urology, pain management, ENT, hand surgery, lithotripsy, brachytherapy, GYN, and laser surgery.
For more information about Specialty Surgical Center, call 973-940-3166 or visit our Contact Page.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.