If you suffer from arthritis in one or both knees, and you just can’t find a treatment that sufficiently reduces your pain, it may be time for knee replacement surgery. The pain of osteoarthritis affects more than 30 million Americans, hindering their ability to enjoy an active lifestyle – sometimes even leading to other health problems, including depression and disability.
However, finding the right doctor and the right treatment can be a life-changer. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the bones, joints, and muscles, and there are many treatments available to successfully ease the pain and stiffness of knee osteoarthritis. When conservative treatments are no longer working to quell your knee pain, it may be time to consider having a total knee arthroplasty (total knee replacement).
So, how do you know whether this procedure is right for you? The following key questions will help you in determining your next steps in the treatment process:
How Severe Is Your Knee Arthritis?
The knee is a very strong joint that supports more than your body weight during many different types of activities. It is composed of the lower end of your thighbone (femur), the upper end of your shinbone (tibia), the kneecap (patella), cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and fluid. Each component has a role to play in creating smooth movement of the knee, so arthritis can lead to pain and stiffness as it interferes with all of these components working properly together.
Over time, the cartilage which cushions the knee joint breaks down due to wear-and-tear. Plus, the synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant changes, so the bones of the knee can become irregular or jagged – further contributing to pain and diminished ability to move the knee. While you may not even know you have arthritis in the early stages, as it progresses, your symptoms will worsen.
When the pain and stiffness limit your ability to enjoy life and to do normal things, your arthritis is severe enough to warrant treatment. If more conservative treatments are no longer working, having a total knee arthroscopy is the solution that will likely work for you.
What Treatments Have You Tried Already?
There are many different treatments to help ease the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee. In the early stages, you may not need anything to keep you moving. You may feel a little stiff when you first get up, or discomfort taking the stairs, but it is often something you can live with.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen are often used to help ease the pain of mild to moderate arthritis. Physical therapy exercises will help to build the muscles that stabilize and protect your knees, and many people find adequate relief through physical therapy.
As knee arthritis worsens, there are different types of therapeutic pain-relief injections that your orthopedic doctor can administer directly into your knee in order to decrease pain and increase mobility – and the relief can last for weeks or months. Eventually, however, as arthritic changes in the knee worsen, having total knee arthroplasty might become your best option to relieve your pain and get you moving again.
How Is Knee Arthritis Affecting Your Life?
This is one of the most important questions you’ll need to consider. Do you love walking with your friends or your dog, but just can’t tolerate long walks anymore because your knee hurts? Do you live in a two-story home and have trouble navigating the stairs because of knee pain? Do you feel unstable in the shower because of knee pain or stiffness?
How arthritis is affecting your life is a big determining factor in deciding whether to have a total knee arthroplasty. The chronic pain of arthritis can be very debilitating both physically and mentally. The inability to join friends in outings and activities can lead to isolation and even depression. In fact, one of the best things you can do for your mental health is to stay physically active, yet arthritis may make this seem impossible.
Additionally, as your activity level decreases because of knee pain, your risk of developing other health problems goes up. For instance, if you have become less active, you could gain weight. This extra weight increases your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Also, being overweight can lead to worsening pain from arthritis or back problems. This can result in a vicious cycle that can only be interrupted by eliminating the source of your pain and replacing your damaged knee with a brand-new prosthetic knee joint.
Skilled Knee Surgeon in Raleigh
Deciding to have total knee arthroplasty surgery is a personal decision that can be made with the guidance of your orthopedic surgeon. An orthopedist is dedicated to eliminating pain and immobility and helping you get back to enjoying an active lifestyle. Dr. Brett Gilbert is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with years of success performing total knee arthroplasty, and he is here for you.
If you have any questions regarding surgery, are considering knee replacement surgery, or are looking for advice on dealing with knee arthritis, our friendly team is here to help. Contact us today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or you can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.