Is Knee Replacement Surgery Right For You?
Each year, knee pain keeps thousands of active Americans from enjoying the life they wish to lead. For those who have tried various treatment plans without relief, knee replacement surgery has become an increasingly popular solution. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), more than 189,000 people over the age of 65 had a total knee replacement in 2007. If you are experiencing consistent knee pain, replacement surgery may be the right choice for you.
Knee replacement offers many benefits for those experiencing long-term pain. During replacement surgery, a surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replaces it with a prosthesis. The surgery not only relieves pain, but improves mobility in the knee joint. According to the AAOS, more than 95 percent of knee replacement recipients experience pain relief, increased movement and a better quality of life. However, not everyone with knee pain is a good candidate for replacement surgery.
Consider knee replacement only if:
- You have pain that interferes with daily life. A prime candidate for knee replacement experiences knee pain that makes it difficult to perform daily activities, such as walking, gardening or climbing stairs.
- You have limited function and mobility. The knee stiffness makes it difficult to sit and bend the knee.
- You have tried other methods to relieve pain. Knee replacement is major surgery, so it should not be considered until other prescribed methods to relieve pain have been exhausted, including weight loss, medication and physical therapy.
- You have certain joint disorders. Patients with advanced joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are good candidates for knee replacement. Osteoarthritis causes the wearing of the cartilage, which allows the surfaces of the bones to rub directly against each other. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system's attacks on the body's own cells and tissues. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may even experience pain when not participating in exercise or weight-bearing activities.
The decision to undergo knee replacement can only be made by you, your physician and your surgeon. Knee replacement is a serious surgery, requiring extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy, so a candidate must be in good general health. Before advising surgery, your surgeon will perform a complete assessment including medical history, physical examination and X-rays. Blood tests, MRI or other bone scanning may be done to determine the extent of bone damage. Your surgeon will then review the results and determine if knee replacement is right for you.
Remember, a knee replacement is not for everyone, but for many, it can greatly improve quality of life. For more information, talk to your physician.