Did you know, in the United States alone, surgeons perform over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries each year? It’s one of the most common procedures because it’s something many of us will face in the latter years of our lives.
Knee replacement surgery is a science that’s been perfected beyond measure. Thanks to robotic technology, it can be performed in record amounts of time and even accelerate the recovery period.
If you’re wondering if you fall into this category, there are several clear signs you need a knee replacement. The problem won’t go on for too long before you realize it’s time to contact a doctor.
Below, we’ll outline seven of the most tell-tale signs that may seem disconcerting, but are actually placing you onto the road to recovery.
1. You Have Arthritis
Arthritis is a painful disease that, unfortunately, only gets worse with age. Stiffness and swelling are often the cause of the pain.
The knee joint is comprised of three bones:
- Femur (thighbone)
- Tibia (shinbone)
- Patella (kneecap)
Cartilage covers the end of each of these bones. It’s cushioning that prevents the bones from rubbing together. Often, the root cause of arthritis in the knee joint is diminishing cartilage.
There are three different types of arthritis:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-traumatic arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It wears away the cartilage between the joints and, over time, only gets worse.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation. The immune system is incorrectly triggering inflammation in the joints, even though there’s no foreign invader. This swelling, over time, can also wear away cartilage.
Post-traumatic arthritis sets in after an injury. If you’ve been in an accident or damaged any of the knee bones, the cartilage is, again, at risk of wearing down over time.
2. Non-surgical Treatments are No Longer Effective
One of the most common ways to combat joint swelling is through corticosteroids. They can bring down the swelling in some cases.
Another common treatment is the simple act of placing a brace on the joint. It can provide extra stability, thus reducing inflammation and pain. When the proper amount of pressure is applied, it can even realign the joint, increasing mobility.
Then, there are nutraceuticals like glucosamine and chondroitin, which work to improve the overall health of bones and soft tissue. Taken on a regular basis, these can also provide some relief.
When any (or all) of these non-surgical treatment options are no longer improving your mobility issues, it may be one of the signs you need knee surgery.
3. You Can’t Participate in Normal Routines
If you walk every evening with your friend or loved one and are finding it increasingly painful on your knee, then that’s certainly going to impact your overall quality of life.
When an evening stroll through the neighborhood requires icing or pain medicine thereafter, it’s time to seek out a new alternative.
There are two different types of knee replacements to consider: partial or whole. Nowadays, the procedure is minimally invasive, offers a faster recovery time, and has proven results.
4. Your Knee is Swollen
As osteoarthritis progresses, the knee will either swell or look deformed. If it’s swollen, it could be that the joint is producing too much joint fluid. You’ve probably heard someone refer to their “bad” knee before.
On the other hand, as the cartilage continues to diminish, the spaces between the joints will also diminish. The muscles around the knee can also thin out. As a result, the “bad” knee may look smaller than the “good” one.
5. You Have Severe and Persistent Pain
Did you know inactivity is actually hard on your knees? Too much sitting can put joints out of alignment, reduce blood flow, cause weight gain, and more.
Usually, that’s not enough to warrant a discussion about a total knee replacement. A slow return to activity may be just the ticket.
But, if you’re dealing with constant, persistent pain (whether you’re walking, sitting, or standing), then there’s a much larger issue at hand.
Again, it’s likely due to some form of arthritis as that soft tissue continues to diminish.
6. Your Knee Is Deformed
This takes us back to the catchphrase of a “bad knee.” A knee can become deformed as tissues begin to swell or cartilage continues to wear away.
Whether it’s inflated or shrunken, it will likely be noticeable, even to the untrained eye. You don’t want to let this go on for too long because persistent injury to the troubled spot will only make things worse (and more painful) over time.
7. You’re Over 60 Years Old
Until about the age of 50, bone density remains relatively the same. There tends to be an equal amount of bone formation and breakdown.
However, during our 50s, the bone breakdown starts to outpace bone formation. This accelerates bone loss and can, again, put things out of alignment.
When you consider how many times we move the knee joint throughout our lives, it’s no surprise this is the joint that tends to “give out” first. It carries the bulk of our weight; it’s integral in sitting, standing, lifting, and more.
Hip replacement is also a common procedure in the latter years of life. Again, it handles a lot of “wear and tear” throughout the years.
The root cause of all this pain is often a straight shot back to that pesky disease: arthritis. Although arthritis itself is incurable, there are many ways to circumvent the problem, including a partial or total knee replacement.
Seek Knee Replacement in Scottsdale, AZ
And there you have it; these are seven clear signs you need a knee replacement.
This form of surgery is more precise than ever with greater longevity for your knee. Here at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale, we offer MAKO knee replacement surgery.
It’s a robotic system that only requires a four- to six-inch incision. There’s less blood loss, bone damage, and soft tissue disruption.
The end result is a significantly decreased recovery timeline and far less pain.
When you’re ready to return to the high quality of life you enjoy, feel free to contact us for a private consultation. From there, we’ll escort you back onto the road to recovery.