Knee pain can significantly impact your quality of life. You may have to give up a favorite sport and even cut down on your general activities. As a result, an enforced sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and other health problems. So you’ll want to resolve knee pain in the best way possible, which may involve knee replacement surgery.
Below are some important facts about knee replacement surgery that might help you decide if fits your personal scenario.
Knee Replacement Surgery Is Most Common for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis happens when the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones wears down; cartilage is a firm, rubbery material whose job it is to absorb shock, which is an important function in a knee. As the bones start to rub against each other, you can suffer from pain and join stiffness. You might experience swelling or a grating sound when you move the affected knee.
Unfortunately, cartilage doesn’t grow back on its own. So if you’ve lost cartilage in the knee, over time more of the bones will become exposed to each other. You’ll experience more pain and may even develop bony growths.
Knee replacement isn’t the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis. However, since cartilage doesn’t grow back, replacement may become necessary if enough cartilage has deteriorated.
You Must Try Other Treatments First
As noted, doctors don’t go straight from an initial diagnosis to recommendation of knee surgery. Instead, you must work through the gamut of at least some of the less-invasive treatments first.
One of the first treatments doctors recommend is weight loss if you’re overweight. Every pound equals three pounds of pressure on your knees. Although your knees are built to withstand up to a certain level of weight, going much beyond that limit can result in increased knee issues.
Another recommendation is to get plenty of exercise. If your knees already bother you, your doctor will probably recommend against high-impact exercises such as running or aerobics. Instead, you might try cycling or water aerobics.
Physical therapy is often a very effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Your physical therapist will design exercises for you to do that strengthen the muscles around the knee, giving it extra support.
Toward the end of your treatment gamut, you may try injections. Doctors have different medications they can inject that fight inflammation, including cortisone shots. They might even suggest hyaluronic acid, which increases the joint fluid in your knee.
Knee Replacement Surgery Is Caused by Different Conditions
Osteoarthritis may be the most common condition that results in knee replacement surgery, but it’s not the only one.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another culprit. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in the immune system attacking cells that line your joints. As a result, the membrane around the knee joint becomes inflamed. Over time, this inflammation can lead to damage of the cartilage.
Another form of arthritis that can lead to eventual knee replacement is post-traumatic arthritis. This arthritis stems from a severe knee injury, say during a car accident or sports injury. The bones around the knee break, and the ligaments tear, leaving enduring damage to your knee. Part of that damage may be to the knee cartilage.
Your Surgeon May Recommend Partial or Full Knee Replacement
The amount of damage to your knee will dictate how big of a surgery you have to undergo. If the damage is limited to only part of the knee, your surgeon may recommend partial knee replacement. With this procedure, the surgeon removes damaged tissue and bone and replaces it with a manufactured prosthetic.
When the damage encompasses all of the knee, you surgeon will likely recommend full knee replacement. This procedure involves removing the damaged cartilage and underlying bone. The surgeon resurfaces the femur and tibia with a metal implant and places a plastic spacer for smooth movement.
Talk to your doctor about whether knee replacement surgery is your best option. If you decide it is, talk to the experts at The Noyes Knee Institute.