Joint replacement, or arthroplasty, is an advanced orthopedic procedure that has helped thousands of people regain movement and experience a drastic reduction in pain. Arthritis is common. Most people deal with it in one form or another as they age. So when is it time for a knee replacement? It is considered “elective” surgery, as the problem is not life or limb threatening. How do you know when a knee replacement is your best option for treatment?
There is no one answer to fit all patients. Knee replacement is a very personal decision, where you need to weigh the benefits and the risks. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding to have a knee replacement.
Do you physically qualify for the procedure?
Is your knee pain due to arthritis? Most people who have knee replacement surgery have osteoarthritis, resulting from years of wear and tear on the cartilage that smooths the ends of the bones and provides lubrication against friction. When the cartilage wears away, the bones rub together painfully and bone spurs can develop that further inhibit smooth movement. Knee replacement surgery consists of the removal of the damaged part of the bones, cartilage, and ligaments, and replacing the joint with a prosthesis that moves in the same way as your natural knee.
Have you tried conservative treatments?
There are many treatments available for arthritis. They range from extremely conservative, like the application of heat and cold, to medication and injections of lubricating fluid or corticosteroids. Many people find relief from these treatments. Waiting to see if a treatment is effective, alone or in combination with others, makes sense before you consider surgery.
Will your life improve after a knee replacement?
Although age is not a major factor in knee replacement success, there are some cases where a patient has multiple painful conditions that make mobility difficult. If a knee replacement will not make a big change in what you can and will do, it may not be worth the risks and cost. If your pain is severe, limits your ability to move, is constant and solely from arthritis, then it may be time for a knee replacement.
Can you afford a knee replacement?
The cost to you, the patient, is not just the unreimbursed cost of the procedure, but time you spend recovering. Depending on what kind of work you do, you could be out for a while before your new knee allows you to return to work. In addition to the monetary concerns, there are risks that go along with any surgery. There is pain involved in the short term and other risks such as infection or blood clots.
Are you in good general health?
The risk of complications and likelihood that a patient is not satisfied with the surgical outcome is highly related to other health conditions that exist. Some of these include obesity, diabetes, chronic pain from other conditions, depression, and others. Your surgeon will talk to you about these seemingly unrelated conditions that can produce a less satisfactory outcome for knee replacement or even make an otherwise relatively safe procedure riskier.
Do you have support?
It’s scary to give up control over your body for the amount of time it takes to recover from major surgery. Do you have a support system in place at home or close by? Living alone being responsible for the care of someone else may make it difficult or impossible to dedicate the time you need to heal and recover.
Knee replacement is one of the safest, most effective treatments for severe arthritis today. Every year more and more people are having this surgery performed. If you are ready to consider knee replacement, Movement Orthopedics can help. Our experienced orthopedic surgeons and providers will take the time to listen to your unique situation and help you decide on the treatment that is best for you. Call Movement Orthopedics in Clinton Township, Michigan at 586-436-3785 for an appointment today.