May 24, 2021

When to Consider Knee Surgery

Knee replacement surgeons carry out approximately half-million total knee replacements, or arthroplasty, annually in the United States- and for a good reason. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), 90 percent of people who have a knee replacement experience a significant reduction in pain. In addition, for many individuals, knee replacement surgery helps them stay active and may enable them to return to activities they previously enjoyed before their knee pain. After a year, many report significant improvements in pain, stiffness, physical function, vitality, and social functioning.

Types of knee replacement surgery

There are two types of knee replacement surgeries: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement. With a total knee replacement, the entire knee joint is diseased or injured, and all three of the knee sections are replaced. A partial knee replacement typically helps relieve arthritis in one or two of the three sections of the knee. Only the injured area of the knee joint is replaced, which helps reduce trauma to healthy bone and tissues. A knee replacement surgeon will determine which knee surgery is best for you based upon the condition of the various parts that make up the knee.

Reasons for knee replacement surgery

Osteoarthritis– This condition occurs when the tissue that cushions the knee joint wears away. As a result, bone rubs against bone, which is quite painful.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – RA is an ongoing, progressive disease that affects the body’s joints with episodes of painful inflammation. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system targets the joint lining.

Knee Pain caused by an injury– Knee pain from an injury can be acute, develop suddenly, and disappear quickly, or it may build gradually over a long period. Chronic knee pain can last for several weeks to months or longer.

A knee replacement surgeon will take several factors into account in deciding if a knee replacement is suitable for you. These considerations include your X-ray or MRI results, pain level, physical function, personal health history, and weight.

Signs that it’s time for a knee replacement

  • Medications do not help or no longer help ease your pain- even more potent anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Other less invasive treatment options do not effectively reduce your pain and inflammation. These may include cortisone injections, lubricating injections, rest, and physical therapy.
  • There is a lot of difficulty and pain while performing everyday tasks, such as dressing, bathing, getting out of bed or a chair, or climbing stairs.
  • You need the aid of a cane or walker to get around.
  • Your pain is severe day and night- causing sleep disruption. The pain is there even when you’re sitting still or lying down.
  • Your knee has become deformed from injury or arthritis. It bows in or out.

Reasons why a knee replacement is not for you

  • You still have time to give more conservative treatments a chance to work. These options include rest, ice, heat, muscle-strengthening exercises, and pain medications.
  • Your pain is bearable, and medications are helping.
  • You can still get around and do your normal activities without much difficulty.
  • You have weak thigh muscles that wouldn’t be able to support a new knee joint, or you have open sores or ulcers in the area that could easily become infected after surgery.
  • You are very overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees and may move parts of the artificial knee joint. This can lead to pain or further surgery.

For many, a knee replacement leads to a higher quality of life, less pain, and better mobility. If you are suffering from knee pain and believe a knee replacement may be the best option for you, call your local knee replacement surgeon, Dr. Paul Buzhardt, M.D, today.