Susan wakes up every morning, excited to start the day in her garden. After a few minutes of spending time among the flowers, her knees start to hurt and she has to give up and go inside. Her joints feel stiff and warm, especially her left knee. The dull ache doesn’t subside with acetaminophen or rest. For awhile, Susan brushes off the pain, imagining it’s the result of her age. Instead of getting better, the pain gets worse and Susan is eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Her doctor gives her a variety of treatment options and Susan starts to feel overwhelmed with the decision. She then asks the question that many people with osteoarthritis ask, “Should I undergo a total knee replacement to deal with my arthritis pain?”
We’re here to help you with these difficult questions.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, simply put, is a degenerative disease that damages the surfaces of the joints where they make contact with each other. The cartilage is worn away, causing the bones to rub against each other. In Susan’s story, her knee cartilage was almost completely gone, causing her daily pain.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include
- Limited range of motion
- Clicking or cracking sounds when moving the joint
- Mild swelling around affected area
- Pain that is worse after activity or at the end of the day.
What can be done about osteoarthritis?
There are many treatment options available to treat osteoarthritis. Depending on the case, your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes, injections, physical therapy, arthroscopy, or replacement. Whichever treatment you and your doctor decide on, the goal will be to help prevent further joint damage and get you back to your way of life.
How do I know if I am a candidate for joint replacement?
If the arthritis is bad enough but you are still active, joint replacement might be the best option for you to explore. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Keith if you’d like to discuss this further.
The best candidates for joint replacement are people who:
- Have severe, debilitating arthritis that is affecting their daily lives
- Tried other routes of managing the pain first
- Are willing and able to participate in physical therapy before and after the surgery
There are some people who shouldn’t have joint replacement, including those who:
- Have poorly controlled diabetes
- Are active smokers
- Are morbidly obese
What can I expect after my joint replacement?
It’s important to have realistic expectations for your joint replacement. Most joint replacements, when taken care of, can last upwards of 20 years. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy doing the things you love.
As for Susan, she decided to move forward with her knee replacement. She felt her pain subside after 4 months due to the success of the surgery and her diligence in physical therapy. Susan loves spending time in her garden for hours without the pain of osteoarthritis.
Susan says: “I’ve been given my life back.”
If are considering getting a knee replacement, give us a call! We’d be happy to walk you through your options.