When to Get a Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery is performed in order to replace a problem joint in the knee with artificial material. This procedure helps to reduce the pain and allows the patient to live a more active lifestyle. If you're wondering when you should get replacement surgery, that's an issue you and your orthopedic doctor will have to discuss. But when pain is so bad it interferes with your daily activities, the time may be right.

The decision about whether or not to get a knee replacement depends on a person's condition. Many people put off a replacement surgery until pain and mobility issues become intolerable. It often takes a great amount time to decide on a surgery.

Your primary-care physician may refer you to an orthopedic specialist who will examine your condition to determine when or if it is time for knee surgery and whether or not knee replacement is appropriate. The surgeon may not recommend replacement surgery if you don't have enough bone, have an infection, or the bone is not healthy enough to support an artificial knee. Surgeons generally try to use less invasive treatments before recommending the procedure.

And, of course, it is wise to try all other treatment options and therapies before proceeding with a surgery. It is advisable to begin with lifestyle changes, strengthening exercises, the use of injections and medication, alternative treatment methods, and other surgical procedures. However, it is possible that even after trying these other options, a physician will still suggest or recommend a knee replacement.

Before recommending a total replacement, an orthopedic surgeon will perform a thorough examination of the patient's knee using X-rays and an MRI to get a good picture of the condition of the joint. The surgeon will also go over the patient's medical record to determine whether the surgery is necessary. The patient will be asked to describe his or her pain. The joints will also be tested for range of motion and strength. X-rays of the joint will show any change in shape or size, or any unusual circumstances.

Declining a knee replacement surgery after a surgeon has determined that the procedure is necessary can have serious consequences. For example, there can be deformities outside the joint. Weakened or even lost function in ligaments and muscles can occur. There can be greater difficulty to participate in normal activities, including driving, walking, bathing and driving. Continued use of a damaged joint will likely result in further deterioration and damage, causing a more complex situation.

Several factors need to be considered when it comes to whether or not to get a knee replacement. It is important to keep in mind that because of medical conditions, age, weight, or other factors, the procedure is not recommended for some individuals. At first, you may look for less invasive treatment options that will help fix your problems and avoid surgery. But if a person falls into the category of a candidate for a knee replacement surgery, then the person should consult with an orthopedic surgeon and, if necessary, seek a second opinion.

Last Updated: April 17, 2017