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Do I Need a Knee Replacement? Signs & Symptoms

patient recovering from a Knee Replacement surgery

Are You Experiencing Knee Pain?

Each year, more than a half-million Americans undergo knee replacement surgeries. So if you’re thinking of having the procedure, you’re not alone.

Many people decide to get knee replacements because they have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition where the cartilage that cushions the knee joint wears away. This causes bone to rub against bone, which can be quite painful.

Other people may need a new knee because they have rheumatoid arthritis, which is a disease that causes chronic joint inflammation. Others may have had an injury that causes knee pain and limits function. These conditions can lead to a gradual worsening of knee pain over a long period of time.  

It’s not easy to know when knee replacement surgery is necessary. You and your doctor will need to take several factors into consideration when deciding if joint replacement is right for you. 

Signs You Might Need a Replacement

Here are some symptoms that might indicate that it’s the right time for a knee replacement:

  • Medications, including even stronger anti-inflammatory drugs, don’t help or no longer ease the pain.
  • Less invasive treatment options don’t effectively reduce your pain and inflammation. These treatments may include cortisone injections, lubricating injections, rest, and physical therapy.
  • You have pain and difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as dressing, bathing, getting out of a chair, or climbing stairs.
  • You need a cane or a walker to get around.
  • You have severe pain day and night. The pain is there when you’re not using your knee, such as when you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Your knee has become deformed from an injury or arthritis. 
  • You are between 50 and 80 years old. Most people who get knee replacements are in this age range.

Does Your Knee Pain Increase in the Winter?

Do you experience more achy joints during the coldest months? Does it seem like your knees feel sore whenever it’s cold outside?

You aren’t imagining it. Winter weather, especially the cold, can cause slow, achy joints, making it harder to move around.

Complaints about joint pain usually occur more often at the end of the fall or during winter. When it’s cold out, the body works to conserve more heat and it sends more blood to the organs in the mid-section of the body, like the heart, lungs, and digestive organs.

As a result, the knees, legs, arms, shoulders, and other joints have less blood circulating through them. This makes the blood vessels at the joints constrict. The reduced blood flow makes these areas stiffer and colder, which can increase pain and discomfort.

Cold weather also causes the joints to become inflamed due to the change in atmospheric pressure. This can cause greater joint pain because of increased nerve sensitivity and poor blood circulation.

How to Ease Knee Pain in the Winter

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your joint pay in the colder months.

1. Keep Moving

It’s important to keep your body active in the winter months. While you shouldn’t try to work through significant joint pain without the assistance of a medical professional, stiff or achy joints shouldn’t mean you become completely sedentary. Low-impact activity can help keep your joints stay healthy. Indoor swimming in a warm pool, stretching with yoga, brisk walking, and weight training are great ways to keep your body active and fit. 

2. Drink More Water

It is always important to be hydrated, especially in the winter months. In the winter, dry air can make you feel dehydrated, tired, and achy. Drinking plenty of water will make your entire body feel better, including your joints. 

3. Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Weight gain often comes hand-in-hand with winter. Many people tend to pack on extra weight during the holidays. Even a small amount of weight gain can affect your knees and other joints. You should make an effort to limit winter weight gain and minimize the pressure on your knees.

4. Stay Warm Indoors

Keep yourself warm and cozy when you are indoors. This will help your mindset and help you keep moving, which will ease your joint pain.

5. Dress for the Cold

When you go out in the cold, make sure you wear plenty of layers. Cold joints tend to ache and feel sore if you have underlying joint pain. You can ease this shock on your body by dressing in proper winter clothing. 

6. Ask Your Physician About Supplements

Consult your physician if you are curious about joint health supplements and treatments. Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be able to reduce your knee pain. Be aware that some supplements and medications can result in unwanted side effects, so be clear about your concerns and conditions with your physician.

What Should You Do if Your Joints Still Hurt?

Are you concerned that your knee pain is more than cold weather? 

You may need a joint replacement for a number of reasons such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis. These conditions lead to considerable pain, as well as a limited range of motion. At Thunder Basin Orthopaedics, we will work with you to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for a joint replacement by looking at your medical history as well as performing a physical exam and taking x-rays.

If you are ready to take the first steps towards pain-free joints, please schedule an appointment with us today.