Orthopedic Advice: Knowing When to Have Knee Replacement Sur...

Orthopedic Advice: Knowing When to Have Knee Replacement Surgery

Fabio R. Orozco, M.D. October 27th, 2014

Are you wondering about when to have knee replacement surgery, or are you still unsure about whether joint replacement is right for you? Many people think they may be too young, too old, or otherwise unable to receive a knee prosthesis, so they rule out the procedure without consulting a doctor. Others too quickly assume that total knee replacement surgery is the right option for them, when there are quite possibly other more conservative treatment option that could reduce pain and restore flexibility of the knees without surgery. All possible treatments should be considered and discussed with a knee specialist before a patient comes to a conclusion about something as serious as whether to have a surgical procedure.

At Rothman Institute, we receive a lot of questions about when to have knee replacement surgery, what the procedure entails, and how long it takes to recover from a knee replacement operation. There is no “one size fits all” answer for these questions, as every patient who comes in for treatment brings along a different set of circumstances, a different overall bill of health, and therefore a different prognosis for successful surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation.
Talk to Your Doctor About When to Have Knee Replacement Surgery
For some of our patients, constant knee pain is a result of an injury on the football field, at work, or in a car accident. In many other cases, the pain gradually sets in, along with a decrease in the joint’s range of motion, due to a medical condition such as arthritis. Disease or injury can occur for any individual, regardless of age, resulting in a rapid or gradual loss of the cartilage in the knee joint. When this cartilage wears away, there is nothing left to prevent the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin) or the patella (knee cap) from rubbing against each other, and the pain that results from this bone-on-bone grinding can be excruciating.
Deciding when to have knee replacement surgery requires a great deal of discernment from an orthopedic specialist with years of experience in treating knee pain and joint disorders. The physicians at Rothman Institute perform thousands of surgeries annually, but they are also experts in non-surgical treatments. Before rushing to the conclusion that a patient needs knee replacements, our surgeons consider whether or not a cartilage treatment is a possibility, or if the pain is a result of something else, such as an injured ligament or a torn meniscus.
If you are unsure about whether knee replacement surgery is right for you, consider the following:
  • With a successful surgery and proper care for the joints, a knee prosthesis can last over 20 years (we have observed a success rate of ninety-eight percent after ten years and ninety-four percent after 20 years). If you need knee replacements at a young age, due to an injury or early onset of a degenerative condition, you can still expect your replacements to serve you well for many years to come.
  • On the other hand, if you are concerned that you may be too old to get both of your damaged knees replaced, you may be a candidate for a staged bilateral knee replacement, which means that we perform an operation on each knee separately, with several months of recovery after the first procedure.
  • By leaving your joint pain untreated, you not only keep yourself from getting work done and enjoying fun activities, but you are putting yourself at risk of developing other conditions in your hip, back, and neck.
  • Lastly, remember the value of exercise and a healthy diet. Your knee pain might be a result of sitting or standing for extended periods of time, or not spending enough time doing the proper stretches and exercise. Talk to your doctor about physical therapy and non-surgical options before opting for knee replacement surgery.
Contact Rothman Institute today to find out how we can help relieve your knee pain and get you back on track to a healthy, active lifestyle and the ability to do the things you love.

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