Knee Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery

October 29, 2014

How to Know When You Need a Knee Replacement

Digital composite of Highlighted knee of injured man

For each individual, there will be a “right time” for addressing your chronic knee pain and certain signs will indicate when a total knee replacement surgery is right for you.

The chronic pain and loss of mobility caused by arthritic knees is affecting increasingly younger patients across the country. Many seek medical advice on how to alleviate their pain. When minimally invasive treatments like physical therapy, steroid injections, and pain medication fail to ease arthritis pain, the next option is total knee replacement surgery.

It is estimated that by the year 2030 there will be more than 3 million total knee replacement surgeries a year in the United States. This is because the surgery doesn’t just reduce pain and discomfort; it can improve your quality of life. After a knee replacement, you can become more active, improve your overall health, decrease your blood pressure, and even reduce your psychological stress.

When Is the Right Time to Have Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
You may know years in advance that a total knee replacement surgery is in your future, but you want to wait until the time is right. Determining the right time is a different process for everyone. The pain from knee arthritis usually happens gradually and gets worse over time until you become accustomed to it. It isn’t that you don’t notice the pain anymore, but the pain becomes an expected part of life.

When this happens, it’s time to consider how the pain is affecting all aspects of your life and if it really is too much to live with:

Does pain affect how you sleep?
One way to determine if knee pain is severe enough for a knee replacement is if it keeps you awake at night or if you are awakened by knee pain. Getting the right amount of sleep is an important aspect of your overall health.

Have you changed your routines and activities to avoid pain?
If you avoid stairs or standing up after sitting down because the pain you know you’ll experience just isn’t worth it to you, it might be time for total knee replacement surgery. If pain makes you stop doing the things you enjoy, like exercising, traveling, or other hobbies, it might be time to stop putting knee replacement surgery off.

Has medicine stopped reducing the pain like it used to?
If over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications no longer work to reduce pain and allow you to do things you enjoy, then you should consider scheduling your replacement surgery.

The most important thing to do, before any of these things that may force the issue for knee replacement surgery, is to keep in contact with your doctor. When things like buckling, clicking, grinding, or limping become common problems, your doctor should be notified.

Will Knee Replacement Surgery Be Painful?
Surgery can be painful or scary for some, which is why it is common for patients to postpone it. To manage the pain associated with the surgery, before, during, and after you will be given pain medication, which is common for any surgical procedure. Even after the surgical pain, 9 in 10 people who had knee replacement surgery said they would do it again. This is because the procedure significantly reduced their pain, helped them regain mobility, and allowed them to regain the enjoyment of their lives.

How Long Is Recovery?
If you are like most people, you will regain full mobility within 8-12 weeks post-surgery. Physical therapy starts immediately following your surgery and will continue after you go home. The recovery process also includes caring for your surgical wound and avoiding certain activities that can hinder the wound healing and stabilization of the knee implant. As scar tissue softens over time, most patients will continue to heal and become more mobile even after physical therapy is completed.

With 8 in 10 people reporting feeling pain-free one year after surgery, total knee replacement surgery is definitely the answer to your chronic knee pain when you feel the time is right. Contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital if you have questions about your potential knee replacement surgery or call (877) 918-7020 for more information.

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