By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgery in which your natural knee joint is removed and reconstructed with metal and plastic parts. It’s a good option for individuals who have severe damage due to injury or diseases like arthritis. Answering these basic questions can give you a basic idea of whether you should bring up arthroplasty with your physician.
Do you have Severe, Fairly Constant Pain?
When there is light to intermediate damage to your knee joint, pain is not necessarily always present, and you usually can manage it with over-the-counter medications. If you need a knee replacement, however, the pain will be relatively constant, and over-the-counter options don’t provide sufficient relief. If your discomfort is disrupting your sleep, stopping you from participating in activities you enjoy or making everyday tasks like getting out of bed hard, knee replacement might help.
Is your Knee Swollen?
Swelling occurs with knee problems because the body sends extra blood to the area in an attempt to deliver healing white blood cells and extra nutrients. This reaction is a normal part of your inflammation response, but it can be excessive and cause the knee to be tender and stiff.
Is your Leg Bowed or Grating/Clicking?
Bowing of the leg often happens with individuals who need knee replacement because there is an uneven wearing away of the cartilage inside the joint. The direction of the bowing can be either in or out. You might feel like the joint is clicking or grating, as well, as a lack of cartilage means the parts of the joint are rubbing more directly on each other and not gliding properly.
Have you Already Tried Other Options and Gotten No Relief?
Most doctors treat knee replacement as a last resort, knowing that the surgery usually results in a less stable joint despite improving flexibility and decreasing pain. They might recommend you try physiotherapy or general exercise to strengthen the joint, as well as to lose weight so there’s not as much pressure on the knee. Other recommendations include corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections, braces, ointments, massage and nutritional supplements. If you’ve been through these choices and still are suffering, knee arthroplasty could be your best bet.
Is your Range of Motion Limited?
Inflammation, pain and the accumulation of scar tissue usually result in a loss of flexibility when a knee is damaged. A little decrease is not necessarily a reason to go under the knife and often can be alleviated with physical exercises, but if the lack of mobility is interfering with daily tasks and preventing you from completing general self-care, it’s time to consider replacement.
Have you Gained Some Weight?
As knee problems worsen, the majority of people tend to become less physically active as a response to their pain. They sometimes gain weight when this happens, as they’re not burning as many calories. This increase in pounds is one of the more subtle signs that you need to replace your joint.
Do you Feel Depressed, Anxious or Angry?
Knee problems can mean you can’t do the things you love or spend as much time with the individuals who matter to you. They can limit your independence, too. Many patients struggle with negative feelings as a result.
Knee replacement surgery isn’t an operation to jump into, and not everyone needs the procedure. If you’ve answered yes to the majority of these questions, however, then getting an artificial joint vastly could improve the quality of your life.