Questions, questions. Do I need a joint replacement?
If you are starting to experience pain and loss of mobility in your hips or knees, you may be looking at surgery to relieve the condition. Our next few blogs will answer some questions you may have, describe your options, and focus on recovery.
With people living longer than ever, arthritis of the hip and knee is more common. The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons estimates there may be a need for 500,000 hip replacements and 3,000,000 knee replacements each year by the year 2030.
But joint replacement is the last option. There are treatments and surgical procedures that may relieve the problem without restoring to knee or hip replacement.
Treatment of arthritis starts without surgery. Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication may help. Using a cane or avoiding doing things that hurt may give relief as well. At first, you may only have pain or stiffness when walking a long way. As the arthritis gets worse, however, routines like taking short walks, putting on shoes, or dressing may cause pain that can only be treated by surgery.
The good news is that hip and knee replacements are very successful surgeries. It takes time to heal afterwards, but many people return to an active, pain-free life.
Many factors are important to think about when you’re considering surgery: general health, time away from work, family commitments, and the time it will take you to get better afterwards. Perhaps you cannot take care of your home or family, or you can no longer do your job. You’ll likely decide the time is right for surgery when your knee or hip pain prevents you from living comfortably.
But don’t wait too long! People with hip and knee arthritis have disability from two things: pain and “mechanical” symptoms such as locking of the joint. You may suffer from pain, swelling, and stiffness for a while before considering surgery. Or you may decide to see a doctor when the mechanical symptoms get worse, because these symptoms can jeopardize safety at home or at work.
As hip and knee arthritis worsens, the stiffness of the arthritic joints also worsens. This can make the replacement surgery more difficult, resulting in a longer recovery and more physical therapy. Unfortunately, in severe cases joint flexibility may never return to normal. By waiting too long, you may not get the full benefits of your hip and knee replacement surgery.
In the next few blogs, we’ll discuss the various treatments for developing arthritis and the options you can choose from in the event surgery is recommended. Remember this: the first line of treatment is nearly always non-operative. This includes weight loss if appropriate, an exercise regimen, medication, injections, or bracing. If the symptoms persist despite these measures, then you could consider total hip or knee replacement.
Blue Sky Therapy has a continued commitment to patient-driven quality, excellence, integrity and innovation in everything that we do. That’s why we are scrupulous about planning the treatment of each and every client, and carefully documenting the outcome!
American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Developed by the AAHKS Patient Education Committee. Authors: Craig J. Della Valle, MD, Frank R. DiMaio, MD, Marc W. Hungerford, MD.