For people with diagnosed degenerative joint disease or knee arthritis, severe knee discomfort can make it hard to climb stairs, shop or even sleep at night. But there is hope for those suffering from aching knees. Knee replacement surgery relieves pain in more than 90 percent of patients. Within months of surgery, most patients can play golf, drive a car or go for a long walk again.
Am I a Candidate for Knee Replacement Surgery?
Talk to your physician about knee replacement surgery if you can answer yes to any of these questions:
- Are you having knee pain that keeps you awake or awakens you at night?
- Are your normal, daily activities limited (walking, lifting yourself up, climbing stairs)?
- Do you have knee pain that limits activities such as walking for exercise, traveling or shopping?
- Have you tried other treatments for a reasonable period of time and you still have persistent knee pain?
- Are you under 65? The operation is safe for people of all ages, but artificial knees typically last about 10 to 15 years.
- Are you healthy? Heart disease and other conditions should be under control before surgery. Obese adults may need to lose weight before surgery.
- Are you committed to recovery? For successful rehabilitation, you will need to follow a strict exercise schedule for several weeks.
The National Institutes of Health has concluded that knee replacement surgery is a safe and cost-effective treatment for alleviating pain and restoring function in patients who do not respond to conservative measures. In general, significant restoration of function and reduction of pain occurs in 90 percent to 95 percent of those undergoing knee replacement surgery. In some cases, partial knee replacements can be performed. In most cases, however, a total knee replacement is necessary.
Understanding Knee Replacement Surgery
During knee replacement surgery, a doctor removes damaged cartilage and bone and replaces them with metal or plastic parts. After a short hospital stay, you continue recovering at home.
Knee replacements may wear out after 10 to 20 years. Your doctor might advise that you avoid high-impact activities, such as jogging and jumping, to protect your new knee. You can usually safely return to sports like swimming, walking, golfing and hiking.
Staying active is a key part in staying healthy. But if you suffer from knee pain, you may have difficulty doing even usual everyday activities, such as walking or bathing.