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How Do You Know If You Need Knee Replacement Surgery?

doctor examining knee

When your knee is severely damaged and affecting your quality of life, it is time to consider knee replacement surgery. Those suffering from knee pain for an extended period may consider talking with your orthopedic surgeon to help decide if or when you would benefit from a knee replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty.

Doctors did the first knee replacement surgery in 1968, and since then, it has become a standard procedure and has seen many improvements. Suppose you have already tried other alternatives, losing weight and taking medication for pain, and are still experiencing severe pain. In that case, it is time to consider talking with your orthopedic doctor about knee replacement surgery.

This article will help you understand the types of conditions often relieved by knee replacement surgery, how to know when it is time, and what to expect in the recovery process.

Conditions Helped By Knee Replacement Surgery

The surgical process of a knee replacement mends damaged surfaces helps to relieve pain, and resurfaces the knee joint.

  • Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage which acts as a cushion between the bones in your joint wears away. More than 90% of knee replacement surgeries are successful, which means that patients have less pain, improved function, and quality of life. People who suffer from osteoarthritis may benefit from knee replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is another common disease that causes chronic joint inflammation that may result in someone needing a knee replacement if the pain becomes severe.
  • An injury can cause knee pain or limit function also. If you have had an injury and find your pain gradually worsens over an extended period, it is time to consult your doctor about knee replacement surgery as an option.

Your orthopedic surgeon will use several factors such as pain levels, effects on your daily activities, and quality of life to determine if or when you may be a candidate for a knee replacement.

How To Know When It Is Time For Knee A Replacement Surgery

A complete knee replacement is a resurfacing – your orthopedic surgeon will place metal pieces to recreate the joint’s surface, with a plastic separator in between and possibly a plastic resurfacing of the inside of the knee cap.

Here are some signs that indicate it may be the right time for a knee replacement.

  • Medications, including strong anti-inflammatory drugs, no longer help ease your pain.
  • Less invasive treatment options such as cortisone injections or lubricating agents have little or no effect on your pain or inflammation.
  • You have a lot of pain and experience difficulty in your daily life and everyday tasks like bathing, getting out of a chair or bed, climbing stairs, or getting dressed.
  • You need the support of a cane or walker to get around.
  • You experience severe pain, including while you are sitting or lying down.
  • Your knee is always swollen or deformed.

The decision to have a knee replacement is a personal one and is best made based on your pain level, the effects on your quality of life and daily activities,  and input from your doctor.

Preparing For Your Surgery And Your Recovery Time 

While the time it takes to recover will vary for people, it usually takes 12 months to regain all of your strength. You can do some things ahead of time to reduce your recovery time, such as strengthening your knee muscles and losing weight if needed.

According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, most people will:

  • Be able to begin walking with help on the day of your surgery
  • Be able to start walking without assistance after 2-3 weeks
  • Spend only 1-3 days in the hospital

The first couple of weeks is the most uncomfortable time and the most crucial time. How fast you recover depends on factors such as:

  • The strength of your knee before surgery, so consider 
  • If you follow the instructions of your healthcare and support team, especially physical therapy, medication, and wound care
  • Your weight before and after surgery

Overall the benefits far outweigh the risks. Find out if you are a good candidate and if knee replacement surgery is right for you, and consult with an expert today.

At Thunder Basin, Our Expert Orthopedic Surgeons Are Here To Help You

Consult with us at Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and our team of experienced surgeons to help you get back on your feet. 

We offer all the support you need and treat everything from traumatic injuries, joint replacement, fractures, and sports injuries, offering a personalized treatment plan. Our goal is to help improve your quality of life, and we have two offices in Gillette and Douglas, Wyoming, to serve you! Book an appointment with us today at Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.