June 15, 2021

Risks Of Delaying Joint Replacement Surgery

There are many different reasons why you may be delaying joint replacement surgery, but over 600,000 Americans get knee replacements each year, so you’re not alone. You might be looking into multiple treatment options before going the surgery route, such as physical therapy or medication. However, it is important to understand the risks that are involved with delaying joint replacement.

Delaying any treatments for health concerns is not recommended since the postponement could cause further complications. Specifically with joint replacement, postponing surgery could worsen the joint deformity, which could end up making it more difficult to replace the joint altogether. Contact your Lafayette ortho doctor, Dr. Paul Buzhardt, who can assess your situation and provide you with information on your treatment options.

Below we go into more detail on why it’s important not to delay joint replacement surgery when dealing with joint discomfort.

The Risks

One of the risks of delaying joint replacement surgery is the cause of increased pain from rheumatic diseases, which continue to wear on the joint. In some cases, the pain becomes unbearable, and the patient finds it difficult to perform everyday activities. With the joint moving less, it could cause stiffness of the joint. The mobility of the joint before surgery will be a gauge of how it will move after surgery.

If your joint pain leads to a decrease in physical activity, this could cause health risks such as “weight gain, decreased endurance, cardiac and pulmonary conditions.” The weight gain puts more pressure on the joints, causing more pain. And not being able to function normally can lead to depression

There have been findings that some patients will start to use the other leg or hip to compensate for the pain of the “bad” joint, causing the “good” joint to deteriorate. In this case, you may need to end up getting more treatments than initially planned and end up in more pain.

Surgery Complications

The risk of deformities inside and outside of the joint could result in a more complicated surgery process. If your joint disease is diagnosed early, you could end up just needing partial knee resurfacing. Delaying surgery could require a total knee replacement, which you did not need initially. 

Over time, as the joint deteriorates, the muscles around the bad joint can weaken, making a recovery more strenuous. There is also the possibility of not fully recovering due to prolonging the surgery. Performing surgery sooner rather than later could result in a more successful outcome. When you’re at a healthier stage, you tend to bounce back quicker.

You could miss out on getting the full benefits of surgery by waiting too long, such as quick recovery and possibly years with less pain. If you have to endure a more extended recovery period, it will delay getting to your daily activities.

When to Consider a Joint Replacement

Dr. Buzhardt recommends considering knee replacement surgery when you “find it more difficult to walk, climb stairs, or get up and down.” Hip replacement surgery may be regarded as when your pain “leads you to become less active.” When you’re not as mobile because of joint pain, it may be time to consider joint replacement surgery.

Overall, you make the ultimate decision on whether you want to proceed with surgery or not. Just make sure you know your options and get the help you need to not further complications or cause unnecessary issues. Contact your local ortho doctor for more information and determine if a joint replacement is right for you.