For many people, a top New Year's resolution involves taking back control of their health. This can mean several things, including motivation for a lifestyle change or a push to schedule a much-needed appointment. One such appointment, an essential operation that can turn someone's life around entirely, is knee replacement surgery.
But a considerable amount of deliberation is needed before jumping to schedule this surgery. That's why our experts at have put together five of the most glaring signs that 2024 could be the right year for you to address and relieve knee pain for good.
#1: You've Already Exhausted Non-Surgical Options
Before considering getting a total or partial knee replacement, it's imperative that you've discussed all of your options with a team of or specialists. While knee replacement implants are incredibly effective as a solution to severe pain, there are routes that patients are recommended to explore before surgery.
These kinds of treatments include:
- Physical Therapy: Engaging in targeted physical therapy is often a first-line treatment. A physical therapist can develop a personalized exercise program aimed at strengthening the muscles around your knee, improving flexibility, and reducing strain on the joint. These exercises can significantly alleviate pain and improve joint function.
- Weight Management: If you're overweight, losing weight can significantly reduce the stress on your knee joints. Even a small amount of weight loss can make a big difference in pain and function. Diet and exercise play a crucial role in effective weight management.
- Assistive Devices: Using devices like braces, orthotics, or a cane can help take the load off your knee, providing relief and improving mobility. These devices are particularly useful for those with joint instability or alignment issues.
- Viscosupplementation: A treatment offered at , this involves injecting a lubricating fluid, usually hyaluronic acid, directly into the knee joint. Viscosupplementation is designed to supplement the knee's natural fluids, thereby reducing pain and improving mobility. It's particularly beneficial for individuals with osteoarthritis, as it can help to restore some of the joint's natural functions. (This is typically the final non-surgical method explored before a provider recommends orthopedic surgery).
#2: There's Been A Noticeable Change In Your Knee Pain
As you may well know, knee pain can naturally occur as we age. Sometimes even younger individuals will feel stiff or painful aches in their knees after an extended period of activity or exercise. But, there is a stark contrast between pain that is transient and pain that is debilitating. Here are a few of the most common ways to tell that your knee pain has progressed to an alarming degree:
- Pain at Rest: Experiencing sharp or throbbing pain in your knee during periods of rest or inactivity is a concerning sign. This type of pain, especially if it interrupts your sleep or occurs without any preceding physical activity, can indicate severe joint damage.
- Increased Swelling: Knee or leg swelling that persists or worsens over time can be a symptom of inflammation within the joint. This swelling may be accompanied by warmth and redness, signaling that your body is responding to an internal problem in the knee, such as a cartilage tear or infection.
- Decreased Range of Motion: Difficulty in fully straightening or bending your knee, or a noticeable decrease in the range of motion, is a sign that your knee joint's functionality is compromised. This could be due to swelling, pain, or mechanical obstruction within the joint.
- Change in the Nature of Pain: A shift in the type of pain, such as from a dull ache to a sharp or stabbing sensation, or the onset of pain in new areas around the knee, should be closely monitored. It's also important to note if pain medications such as ibuprofen fail to address your pain.
#3: Everyday Tasks Have Grown Difficult
Another striking indicator that your knee pain may merit a surgical procedure is if it has progressed so far that you can no longer complete everyday tasks, things that your knee pain never used to prohibit you from completing.
This looks different for every individual, but can manifest in the form of:
- Difficulty running
- Trouble climbing stairs
- Pain while getting into or exiting bed
If you're a particularly active person, you may notice this shift much more quickly. That's because things that you are used to performing with ease, like hiking or swimming, for instance, have become increasingly painful. It is important to let an orthopedic specialist know as soon as these changes are observed.
#4: You Know You Can Commit To Your Recovery
While technology and knee implants grow increasingly more sophisticated by the day, it is still of the utmost importance that patients are willing and able to endure the sometimes lengthy recovery process that comes with having a knee replacement surgery. Most patients who undergo the procedure are able to stand and walk with assistance on the same day, but it can take anywhere from up to six weeks after surgery to be relatively comfortable going about your normal daily routine.
Following surgery, you will also need a significant amount of physical therapy and rehabilitation in order to achieve success. For those who are used to a certain high level of physical activity, this also means you may have to hang up those running shoes for the time being. It's important that you understand the commitment and patience that come with a procedure such as knee replacement surgery before deciding on receiving it.
#5: You Feel Informed About The Procedure
Before any operation, it is important that the patient feels as informed as possible. Not only can knowledge of the procedure help to assuage nerves, but it can also aid in having the most stress-free recovery process possible. So, knowing all there is about the different types of knee replacement surgery can be invaluable as you move forward. At , two types of knee surgery are offered.
Partial Knee Replacement
Partial knee replacement, or Unicompartmental knee surgery, is an effective solution for patients with damage localized to one part of the joint. This procedure involves replacing only the diseased sections, preserving the healthy parts of the knee. It often leads to a quicker recovery, with benefits like a smaller incision, shorter hospital stay, and faster rehabilitation.
Unlike total knee replacements, partial knee replacements maintain more natural knee function due to the preservation of undamaged joint areas. Patients typically enjoy a greater range of movement and potentially delay or avoid the need for total knee replacement. This targeted approach is ideal for those with limited joint damage and can significantly improve quality of life.
Total Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement is often the chosen course for patients with arthritis, knee injuries, or diseases unresponsive to conservative treatments. It involves inserting an entire artificial joint, designed to alleviate pain from cartilage damage. These devices typically last up to 20 years, offering long-term relief and improved joint function.
The procedure entails fitting the femur's end with a metal shell and the tibia with a combination of metal and plastic parts. Depending on the patient's condition, the posterior cruciate ligament and kneecap may also be replaced or left intact. Total knee replacement, which can take up to three hours, usually results in immediate pain relief and a quicker return to normal activities.
Seeing The Signs? Jefferson Orthopedic Clinic Can Help
Taking the leap and getting knee replacement surgery is a much easier decision when you know that you have a reputable and compassionate team behind you. has been rated the best doctor in the Marrero, LA area for the past 23 consecutive years. If you want to schedule a consultation for a stress-free discussion about whether knee surgery is the right choice for you, don't hesitate to .