Should I have my knee replaced?

Total knee replacement was the 14th most common inpatient procedure in 2009. By 2030, the demand for primary total knee replacement is projected to increase to 3.48 million surgeries annually in the U.S. More than 4.5 million people in the United States are living with at least one knee replaced. Out of every surgery that I see, this is by far the most common for me. Sometimes, it’s rare, but patients get both done at the same time. People tend to get used to not being able to do things because of pain, especially when they have knee pain. They just feel that this is the way it is and they are getting old and such is life. I get this question a lot…should I get my knee replaced? Here are a list of reasons why you should or should not have knee replacement surgery.

1. You are limited in your activity: If you are an active person this is a big one! So much thought goes into any elective surgery. But when you can’t do the things that you love to do because of knee pain that is a huge indicator. Limitation due to pain is no way to live life, so if this is happening you may want to consider getting it done.

2. Your husband/wife is effected by your pain: As people go through pain and injuries they don’t realize the toll it takes on their significant other. They can’t do certain things because you are so limited and they don’t want to aggravate you and have you complain. They feel they should avoid things because of your pain.

3. Deformities in the knee can lead to other problems: If you wait too long knee problems can lead to having ankle, hip or low back pain. When you start to favor the one side you tend to start to walk in a different manor and cause more problems.

4. Age plays a role: The youngest I have ever seen in my clinic with a total knee replacement was 23 years old. This was an extreme case, but even newer knees these days last 10-20 years tops. If you are young and active this could cause you to have to have another surgery within 10 years of the first. Most of the time the surgeon recommends waiting at least till age 60, but if activity is limited it can be done sooner.

5. Just because you have some arthritis doesn’t mean you need a replacement: People hear arthritis and instantly think of knee replacement. This is not always the case, especially when it is not that severe. There are other options such as Physical Therapy, injections for cartilage repair as well as activity modification.

6. Success rate is high: 9/10 patients experience drastic pain relief. 95% of patients report they are satisfied with their procedure.

7. Health plays a role: Most patients that are above 80 are high risk especially if they have heart conditions. Most will not receive a knee replacement because of this.

The decision to undergo any type of elective surgery should be well thought out and discussed with your family and your surgeon. I tell my patients that it’s a very important decision and to not rush through it. Don’t wait until it gets so bad that you can’t walk. The longer you wait the worse it can get and delay recovery afterwards. You have to see how it is limiting you in your day to day life and what is important to you.

Click on link to watch a non graphic video of a knee replacement…

Knee replacement video


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