There are several signs that you may need a knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty. The most common reason knee replacement surgery is done is because of osteoarthritis, where the knee cartilage and joint begin to degenerate and the bone underneath is affected. This, in turn, can cause stiffness and lack of or loss of mobility in people. There are, nevertheless, other conditions which can lead to the need for knee replacement surgery.
How Do I Know If I Need a Knee Replacement?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it may be worth discussing the possibility of a knee replacement with your doctor:
1. Persistent Knee Pain
If you have severe pain in your knee that is not relieved by other treatments, such as medications or physical therapy, you may need a knee replacement. This pain may be constant or it may come and go, but it should not be severe enough to interfere with your daily activities. A variety of factors, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or a previous injury may cause the pain.
2. Difficulty Walking
A knee replacement may be necessary if you have difficulty walking or climbing stairs due to knee pain. This may include a limping gait, difficulty standing up from a seated position, or a need for a cane or other assistive device to walk. Difficulty walking may be caused by a variety of factors, including joint damage, muscle weakness, or deformity.
3. Knee Swelling
Knee swelling that does not go away with rest or other treatments may be a sign that you need a knee replacement. This swelling may be accompanied by warmth or redness in the affected area. Swelling may be caused by a variety of factors, including inflammation, fluid accumulation, or damage to the joint.
4. Knee Deformity
If your knee is visibly deformed or misaligned, a knee replacement may be necessary to improve your mobility and reduce pain. This may include a bowed or bent leg or a knee that is turned inward or outward. A variety of factors, including arthritis, injury, or previous surgery may cause deformity.
5. Loss of Flexibility
If you have lost flexibility in your knee and are unable to bend or straighten your leg fully, a knee replacement may be necessary. This may make it difficult for you to perform everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or getting in and out of a car. Loss of flexibility may be caused by a variety of factors, including joint damage, muscle weakness, or scar tissue from previous surgery.
If your knee pain is severe enough that it is preventing you from engaging in activities you normally enjoy, such as walking or playing sports, a knee replacement may be necessary. This may also include a general decrease in your level of physical activity due to knee pain. Inactivity may be caused by a variety of factors, including joint damage, muscle weakness, or a lack of mobility.
It's important to note that not everyone who experiences these symptoms will need a knee replacement. Your doctor will be able to determine the best course of treatment for you based on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your knee pain. In some cases, less invasive treatments such as medications, physical therapy, or injections may be sufficient to manage your symptoms. However, if these treatments are not effective, a knee replacement may be necessary to improve your quality of life.
What Are the Alternatives to a Knee Replacement?
Before considering a knee replacement, your doctor may recommend trying other treatment options such as weight loss, physical therapy, or medications to manage your pain and improve your mobility. These treatments may be sufficient to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life without the need for surgery.
If your doctor determines that a knee replacement is necessary, they will explain the risks and benefits of the procedure to you, and help you understand what to expect during and after the surgery. The surgery itself typically takes about two hours, and you will be given general anaesthesia to ensure that you are comfortable during the procedure.
After the surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days to allow your knee to settle and ensure that there are no post-operative complications. The doctor will monitor your blood and levels of inflammation and ensure that you do not develop a blood clot or any post-operative pain or disorders.