Do your knees ache, and you feel like going to a knee surgery doctor when you hike, walk upstairs, or even sit or lie down? If they do, you might be thinking about treatment options and thinking if you should get replace your knees.
Knee replacement—also known as knee arthroplasty—is a common surgery. More than 1 in 10 Americans will get a total knee replacement by reaching 80.
Even though it is common, the decision to have surgery is personal. How do you know when it is time to go to a knee surgery doctor and have knee replacement surgery?
Surgery is a last resort for numerous patients. A knee surgery doctor would often try more conservative treatments before recommending joint surgery, including knee replacement.
Conservative treatments suggest treatments that don't use surgery. These include physical therapy, exercise, injections, medications, or non-surgical procedures.
Some knee surgery doctors also advise that patients lose weight before considering knee replacement surgery. Losing weight could often improve knee pain.
But if you have these symptoms, you might want to consider a more aggressive treatment: knee replacement surgery.
Arthritis of the knee, particularly osteoarthritis, or "wear and tear arthritis," is prevalent. As we age, we will wear out the cartilage in our knees to some degree. Thankfully for most, occasional knee aches and pains don't limit us significantly. However, the number of people afflicted with more debilitating knee arthritis keeps growing.
There are several reasons for this: Our aging population, obesity, increased demand for physical activity, and previous knee surgery are just some of the factors linked to this rise in knee arthritis. Thus, it has been estimated that by 2030, over 3 million first-time knee replacements may be performed in the United States alone. That's a lot of achy knees.
Knee replacement is a surgery performed by a knee surgery doctor to treat osteoarthritis of your knee. This knee arthritis is a condition that happens as people get older when the cartilage that offers cushioning in the bones of the knee joint starts to degenerate and wear away. That causes the bones to rub together, resulting in significant pain. It also could lead to inflammation and swelling, affecting your ability to straighten and bend your leg.
Degeneration of the cartilage in the knee might be worse or occur earlier in life if you have had a prior knee injury. Obesity can also be more severe since more weight is on the joints.
The term "knee replacement" might sound scary to some people. It makes the surgery sound extremely different from what it is. In a modern knee replacement, we replace the knee joint surfaces, not the joint itself. The ligaments, tendons, and all the other structures around the knee are left in place. I sometimes compare it to a dentist capping a tooth: We add new caps to the bones.
If you've tried physical therapy, exercise, and pain medication, but your pain isn't improving, it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery. After knee replacement surgery, the pain goes away for as many as 90-95 percent of younger patients.
If your arthritis makes it difficult for you to walk, sleep, and go to work, this may be a sign you need to go to a knee surgery doctor and consider knee replacement surgery.
Do you have a stiff, painful, swollen knee? Total knee replacement surgery eliminates much of the inflamed, damaged tissue inside your knee that causes stiffness and swelling.
Surgery might be a great option if your leg is deformed because of an injury or if you were born with a deformity. Knee replacement surgery could repair deformed knee joints and help them normally work again.
Most knee pain worsens when you use your knee while exercising, walking, or running. But if your knee hurts even when you are not using it, you might need surgery to treat moderate or severe pain.
During knee replacement surgery, your knee surgery doctor would remove all or part of your knee joint and replace damaged portions with an artificial joint. The artificial joint can correct your leg if it bows in or out.
Artificial knee joints could last between 15-25 years. If you love skiing, running, or hiking, but your knee pain makes it difficult to do those things, knee replacement surgery might be a good option.
For 9 out of 10 people, artificial knee joints still work properly twenty years after surgery. Your physical activity level and age may affect how well your artificial knee joint works over time. For instance, artificial joints usually last longer for older, less active people. But overall, artificial joints provide long-term improvement.
This is highly important to the success of the surgery. Experience sharpens the skills and knowledge of a professional. So when you choose a knee surgery doctor, check how long they have been practicing and what disciplines they are most experienced at. You must also ask how often the surgeon has performed knee replacement surgery, and do they perform such many times a year? Questions like this help you establish the competency of the knee surgery doctor.
The knee surgery doctor's training, education, and degrees also speak of their competence in the field. That is why you must consider and review the surgeon's education, training, degrees, fellowship, and board certifications.
You can verify the surgeon's credentials and education online. In the U.S., you can look into the knee surgery doctor's disciplinary record and reputation through any of these associations' websites: the American Medical Association and Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
If you aren't confident or satisfied with the first knee surgery doctor you approached, you can always try a second opinion. The knee surgery doctor usually understands if you are not at ease and request a second opinion.
As a patient, it's your right to ask some questions. After all, your condition and health are in line here. Try not to feel intimidated and uncomfortable when asking questions. Raise your concerns about the procedure, its success, the possible complications, the recovery time, etc. You can even ask the knee surgery doctor directly about their experience and credentials.
Sometimes, you have to trust your gut. Weighing in all the considerations mentioned above, you can go with the knee surgery doctor you feel confident about.
If you want a highly trained and experienced surgeon in knee procedures, go straight to a knee surgery doctor, like us at Sunnyvale Orthopedics. To learn more about our knee surgery services, please reach out to us today.
To get the best possible treatment, choose a knee surgery doctor. They have the training and specialized knowledge required to treat a wide array of conditions involving the musculoskeletal system — cartilage, muscles, bones, nerves, and joints — including the knees.
The most major knee surgery is knee replacement surgery. Likewise known as knee arthroplasty, this procedure can help relieve pain, as well as restore proper function in severely degenerated knee joints.