Should You Consider Knee Surgery?
After back pain, knee pain is one of the most common reasons millions of people suffer daily. One or both of the knees can feel on fire, to the point where heading to the doctor’s office is necessary. At some point, the doctor or orthopedic surgeon may bring up the possibility of a total joint replacement. While surgery sounds scary, the procedure can reduce pain and restore the quality of life. But is a knee replacement necessary?
What’s causing your knee pain?
Knees are made of bones, tissue, and ligaments that help with bending, twisting, and overall flexibility. The ligaments are also shock absorbers for the upper body. Over time, anyone can develop knee pain. Some knee pain comes from an injury, particularly in sports. These are often treatable and do not require a total knee replacement. However, most conditions come from arthritis, which is the painful wear and tear of bone and cartilage. Arthritic knee pain can be chronic, limiting mobility and even causing weakness.
Signs you may need a knee replacement
Knees are meant to help with movement without being painful. However, intense pain after short periods of activity could point to surgery. Persons who are over age 60 are, particularly at risk. Some other signs include:
- The patient is unable to bend the knee without pain.
- There is a grinding or scraping sensation when walking or bending the knee.
- The knees are always stiff and swollen, especially after sleeping or long periods of sitting.
- The patient continually opts out of activities and exercise for fear of knee pain.
When knee replacement makes sense
Total knee replacement is not always the go-to solution for knee pain. If the patient has an existing infection or if the surrounding bone cannot support the new knee, surgery is not recommended. Even with the symptoms mentioned, most doctors focus on non-surgical treatment options first. These options include medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, and alternative treatments like platelet-rich plasma injections. If treatment fails, however, surgery can help.
Turning to minimally invasive surgery
While knee replacement sounds complicated, the procedure has made serious strides in terms of simplicity. Using minimally invasive surgery, or MIS, an orthopedic surgeon can access the knee using small incisions and an arthroscope. MIS means shorter surgery times, faster recovery times, and higher success rates. That’s why more than 700,000 knee replacements happen every year.
What happens in the operating room?
The goal of surgery is to replace all of the damaged or degraded knee with prosthetic parts. An orthopedic surgeon makes small incisions on the knee to access the damaged bone. Then, using the arthroscope and small tools, the surgeon removes the damaged bone and cartilage. The bones are replaced with prosthetics and plastic materials. The procedure usually happens under general anesthesia and can take anywhere between 1-3 hours. Over the years, the surgery has continued to produce a high success and satisfaction rate.
A total joint replacement could be a lifesaver
Thousands of people ignore knee pain every year. But consistent pain, swelling, and a lack of mobility are signs of a degraded joint. These signs don’t immediately signal a total joint replacement but are evidence to visit a doctor. If non-surgical treatment fails, a joint replacement is a next step. Rest assured, with minimally invasive techniques, surgery could restore the quality of life. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.