Knee replacement surgery is performed on almost eight hundred thousand Americans each year, so if you’re wondering if this form of treatment is right for you, you certainly aren’t alone. This number is projected to be near 3 million per year by the year 2030. Suffering from chronic pain related to degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee joint can have a devastating impact on your life. Daily activities can become difficult or even impossible, and it’s easy to become isolated from friends and family.
Knee replacement surgery is typically seen as a last-resort treatment, and the decision to undergo any surgical procedure should be made with care. To determine if a knee replacement is necessary, surgeons should perform a thorough evaluation to find out if a patient is a suitable candidate and that he or she has fully explored other treatments.
To help you better understand when to seriously consider knee replacement surgery, OJRCA is sharing this informative guide. We’re here to help and welcome any questions you have. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at any time as you look over the following article.
What Conditions and Injuries Can Knee Replacement Surgery Treat?
A knee replacement, or knee arthroplasty, is designed to replace a severely damaged knee joint.
The most frequent cause of this degree of joint damage is degeneration due to knee arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis occurs due to age-related breakdown of cartilage in the knee joint that leads to inflammation and eventually, bone-on-bone contact on a long-term basis. Over time, this inflammation and friction leads to severe joint instability and pain.
Another form of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the body, especially joint tissue and joint lining. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to severe joint damage that may require knee replacement to relieve pain and restore function.
In addition to the many forms of arthritis, traumatic injuries that cause fractures and ligament tears can also contribute to long-term knee joint damage that can eventually require joint replacement. This is especially true if the injury is not treated properly initially.
To Determine if Knee Replacement is Necessary, Patients Should First Explore Conservative Treatments
As a progressive condition, arthritis is not reversible and it tends to get worse with age. This does not mean that everyone diagnosed with knee arthritis or another form of joint degeneration will require surgery. In fact, many patients are able to find sufficient relief from conservative therapy for a healthy and active lifestyle, especially early in the progression of arthritis.
Conservative arthritis therapy can actually help to slow down the progression of the disease, helping avert the need for knee replacement surgery. This is why it’s so important to take it seriously and work closely to develop a personalized and effective treatment plan as early as possible.
Common nonsurgical options that can relieve pain for knee arthritis patients include:
- Periods of rest — Patients with knee arthritis should modify activities as much as is needed. While it’s important not to become overly sedentary, overworking your knees with impact loaded exercises can speed up knee damage.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — While over-the-counter drugs such as NSAIDs treat the symptoms and not the underlying condition, they can play an important role in pain management as well as helping patients stay active.
- Therapeutic injections — Injection options include lubricating shots, a group of injections called viscosupplementation, as well as amniotic fluid injections, the latter can be reparative for some patients. For more severe knee arthritis symptoms, therapeutic steroid injections can help relieve joint inflammation and pain for intermediate periods of time. This can help someone diagnosed with arthritis of the knee relieve pain and complete other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy.
- Physical therapy — Working with an experienced physical therapist to strengthen the knee joint and improve flexibility often plays a key part in long-term arthritis management. If knee replacement surgery ever does become necessary, it will also help patients rebuild strength during recovery and gain function with their new knee joint.
It can take some time to find the right combination of treatments that helps patients successfully relieve pain, which is why it is important to be patient and expect some degree of trial and error while exploring conservative therapies.
Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle Before Considering Knee Replacement
Along with conservative treatment, patients should also fully pursue any recommended lifestyle changes before seriously considering knee replacement surgery. There are a number of factors that significantly contribute to severe joint damage and can hasten the need for knee replacement.
One of the most important is weight management. With every step, it is estimated that the knees withstand four pounds for every one pound of weight we put on them. So, every extra pound that a person with knee arthritis can lose equates to four pounds of stress removed from the knees with every step.
It’s also critical to stay active and eat a nutritious diet, even if you are dealing with aches and stiffness caused by knee arthritis. Regular low-impact exercise helps mobilize joints and maintain cardiovascular fitness, while eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve pain and promote the health of the knee joint.
When to Undergo an Evaluation for Knee Replacement
If weeks or months of conservative treatments and making recommended lifestyle changes have not brought the relief necessary to engage in a good quality of life, knee replacement surgery can start to become a serious consideration.
When meeting with an orthopedic surgeon to explore the possibility of knee replacement surgery, you can expect to take the following steps:
- A full review of your medical and treatment history
- A thorough discussion of your symptoms and how they are affecting daily activities
- An evaluation of recent diagnostic imagery to determine the extent of knee joint damage
- A thorough physical evaluation, including movement tests and any necessary diagnostic tests
If a surgeon believes that knee replacement surgery is a viable option, he or she will then discuss different approaches to surgery. This should include the possibility of minimally invasive outpatient procedures that can be performed in an outpatient ambulatory surgery center. Thanks to advancements in surgical technology and technique, surgeons can now perform procedures that help patients avoid an extended hospital stay. Additionally, minimally invasive knee replacement involves less disruption of soft tissue, offering patients the possibility of a shorter and less difficult recovery period.
Call OJRCA to Learn About Outpatient Joint Replacement Surgery
If knee pain from arthritis or a knee injury is keeping you from being active and enjoying the quality of life that you deserve, it may be time to consider outpatient knee replacement surgery. At Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America, we’re passionate about helping people in pain reclaim their health and former activity levels. Please call us or reach out online to schedule an appointment at our Tampa, FL, clinic