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4 signs you might need a knee replacement

by Jessica Springer | Nov 30, 2016
Knee Pain

The decision to have knee replacement surgery is not something that should be taken lightly. Although knee replacement is a routine surgery performed on thousands of people worldwide each year, it is still a serious decision that should be discussed with an orthopedic surgeon. If other options haven’t helped your joint pain, here are some of the signs you might benefit from knee replacement surgery.

1. Medications aren’t helping.
There are several medication options when it comes to treating knee pain. Over-the-counter oral medications include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Creams and ointments that you rub onto the skin are also sold over the counter and can help numb the area affected. Corticosteroid injections, also called cortisone shots fight inflammation and offer pain relief that can last up to several months. Hyaluronic acid is injected into the knee to boost natural joint fluid that keeps them moving smoothly. If none of these options have given you relief from your knee pain, surgery may be the next step.

2. Weight loss didn’t make a difference.
Every pound you gain puts an extra three pounds of pressure on your knees. People with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 should consider weight loss to see whether that improves symptoms of knee pain, before considering joint replacement. Even if you decide to have surgery, doctors will often recommend overweight patients shed some excess pounds to increase chances of a successful replacement.

3. You have bone-on-bone arthritis.
X-rays should be obtained and show bone touching bone somewhere in the knee. If there is only thinning of the cartilage without bone-on-bone, patients are often unsatisfied with the results of the knee replacement. Another reason to consider surgery is if you are falling frequently because of knee arthritis. Don’t delay if your knee is making you unstable.

4. The pain is interrupting your day.
If you’re finding it difficult to sleep at night, partake in everyday activities or feel confined to your house because of the pain in your knee, it may be time to consider surgery. If you’re cut back on gardening, walking, or find yourself avoiding stairs on a daily basis, talk to your doctor.

Only you can decide if you’re ready for a knee replacement. In most cases, knee replacement can be done within your time frame, and there is usually no rush to have the operation. Talk to your doctor to see if knee replacement surgery makes sense for you.

The orthopedic team at Spectrum Health Lakeland routinely performs knee, hip, and shoulder replacement surgeries. The care team includes physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists specializing in total joint care. Every detail, from preoperative teaching to postoperative exercising, is considered and reviewed with you.

Call (269) 927-5361 to Find a Lakeland Orthopedic Surgeon or click here to submit a question. 

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