For most patients suffering from arthritis of the knee, the decision to undergo a knee replacement procedure requires many important steps and decisions. While knee replacement procedures are a safe and effective option, it is important that you and your orthopedic surgeon create a comprehensive treatment program. Below are 4 things patients should consider before knee replacement surgery.
Is Your Quality of Life Affected?
Quality of life may be the most important factor in deciding whether a knee replacement is the right option. Many patients find it difficult to walk up or down stairs, stand from a sitting position or find it hard to sleep due to the persistent pain due to arthritis of the knee. This pain and reduced mobility also affects a patient’s ability to live the active and healthy lifestyle they once enjoyed.
Have You Tried Conservative Treatments?
If over the counter medications and activity modification have not provided an adequate reduction in pain, medical intervention may be an option. In many cases, patients are able to find relief utilizing a Knee Replacement Deferral Program. This program includes the utilization of Synthetic Joint Fluid Injections coupled with physical therapy. This artificial joint fluid acts as a liquid cushion between the two bones of the knee and may result in less stiffness and pain, as well as greater mobility. This substance lasts for approximately 6 months, and is then absorbed by your body, and may be repeated every 6 months.
The goals of this program are to reduce your pain, improve your level of function, and to strengthen the joints and ligaments of the knee while also increasing range of motion.
Have You Evaluated Your Options?
If conservative treatments have not been effective, a knee replacement procedure may be appropriate. However, it is important to discuss with your orthopedic surgeon whether you are a candidate for a Partial Knee Replacement or Total Knee Replacement as the best option for you.
In some cases, one compartment of the knee may have deteriorated more than the other due to osteoarthritis. In cases where only one side of the knee may be affected, a partial knee replacement (also known as unicompartmental knee replacement) may be effective. Typically unicompartmental knee replacements have a shorter lifespan than Total Knee Replacements.
In other cases, multiple compartments of the knee are damaged and are no longer healthy. In cases such as this, a Total Knee Replacement procedure can replace the damaged portions of the knee and use long-lasting implants to restore a normal range of motion and alleviate pain.
Have You Found the Right Orthopedic Surgeon?
Many physician practices make claims regarding their “expertise” in knee replacement procedures and boast the numbers of procedures performed. However, what should be noted is that knee replacement should not be your first and only option. Finding an orthopedic surgeon who offers a variety of treatment options allows the patient and the physician to collectively decide what the best options for your particular level of function are.
Finally, having realistic expectations as to what a knee replacement will achieve is vital to having a successful outcome. Knee Replacement Surgery is a procedure that is done to correct deformities of the knee and to relieve the severe knee pain associated with arthritis of the knee. It will not however turn back time and bring you back to the same level of function or activity that you had before arthritis set in.
Dr. Nicholas Alexander is the Founder of Mahwah Valley Orthopedic Associates and a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of hip and knee conditions. Dr. Alexander completed his Fellowship in Adult Reconstruction and Reconstructive Surgery of the Hip and Knee at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and has over two decades of experience. He also serves as the Chairman of the Valley Hospital Total Joint Center. Dr. Alexander has offices in Mahwah and Clifton, NJ. If you, or someone you love, is considering treatment for chronic knee pain, contact us today for a consultation.