Knee replacement surgery is among the most successful surgeries in orthopedic medicine. Many patients suffering from chronic knee pain have found immense relief through this procedure. Yet, the decision to undergo knee replacement surgery can be daunting and requires careful consideration.
When is the right time for knee replacement? Although there is never a perfect time to elect to have joint replacement surgery, these indicators can help guide your decision.
Conservative Treatments Not Working: Before surgery is considered, nonsurgical treatment options such as pain medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes are exhausted to help alleviate knee pain. If these conservative treatments do not provide results, knee replacement surgery is often necessary to regain mobility.
Debilitating Pain: Your knee is essential to your mobility, so if you are constantly suffering from debilitating pain, your knee’s functionality will suffer. When your knee pain begins to affect everyday activities and negatively impact your life, it may be time to consider knee replacement.
Joint Damage: If your knee has suffered an intense blow, causing intensive damage to the knee joint, surgery may be required. Similarly, in severe cases of arthritis of the knee, the knee joint can deteriorate drastically, indicating a need for knee replacement surgery.
Age: Age shouldn’t be a sole factor in your consideration, and the recommendation for surgery should be based on pain levels and disability, rather than age. Younger patients are now opting for joint replacement to relieve pain and return to an active lifestyle well into their golden years.
Overall Health: For any surgery, patients should be generally healthy and have a good medical history to ensure the best results. Before entering the operating room, it is recommended to take steps to optimize your health such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing any underlying conditions.
Patient Readiness: Knee replacement surgery can be intimidating, affecting a patient’s psychological readiness for surgery. Have open communication with your surgeon and care team. Learn about the risks and benefits of joint replacement in order to make a well informed decision.
Timing: Planning your knee replacement during a time of year that works for you is essential. Ensure you have ample time off work, or have a family or friend ready to help you in the recovery process. Delaying knee surgery can negatively impact your joint health.
Postponing the procedure can make knee pain worse, as the joint disease worsens, significantly affecting your ability to move and quality of life. Procrastinating surgery can increase the risks of complications as you age, and potentially extend the duration of your recovery process.
Knowing the best time for knee replacement is ultimately up to you and your team of healthcare providers. Each person and their conditions are unique, with unique timelines. Today’s advancements in knee surgery offer better outcomes with robotics technology, better surgical techniques, and improved pain control options. Many healthy patients can opt for outpatient knee replacement, with high patient satisfaction rates while recovering at home.
AUTHOR: Robert J. Avino M.D. is a board-certified and fellowship-trained adult hip and knee reconstruction surgeon at Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Avino specializes in robotic-assisted hip and knee replacement using the minimally invasive direct anterior approach to hip replacement, across Palm Beach County in South Florida.