When to Consider Knee Replacement and How it's Changed Over the Last 10 Years

Author: McLaren Flint

According to a study completed by The Lancet, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis and is a leading cause of adult chronic pain and long-term disability. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hip, knee, and hand joints, but most joints can be involved. The study also claimed that by 2050, knee osteoarthritis will increase by 75%. With millions of Americans suffering from osteoarthritis, it’s important to know how to manage the pain.

When diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the knee, there are multiple options you can try for pain relief that don’t include surgery. These may include:

  • Bracing – a properly fitted knee brace may provide support and relief
  • Injections or infusions – Cortisone/steroid injections
  • Lifestyle modifications – such as weight loss and exercise
  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medications

When these options have been exhausted, and there is still knee pain that is affecting your lifestyle, it may be time to consider surgery.

“Indications for knee replacement surgery are primarily severe arthritis that negatively affects their daily function and quality of life, or collapse of the bone,” said Dr. Ajay Srivastava, an orthopedic surgeon who performs surgery at McLaren Flint. “There are partial and total knee replacement surgeries depending on what the patient needs. Most patients will require total knee replacement.”

Thanks to many advancements in technology and medicine, recovery from a joint replacement surgery looks much different than it did 10 years ago.

“Most joint replacement surgeries are performed outpatient, and the patient will go home the same or next day,” said Dr. Srivastava. “Performing strengthening exercises, eating nutritious meals, and maintaining a healthy body weight before surgery are all ways to improve surgery outcomes and recovery.”  

On average, most patients can drive two to three weeks after surgery and play golf or travel six weeks after surgery. If you work in an office, you may be able to return to work a few weeks after surgery; however, it may take up to 12 weeks after surgery to be ready to return to a job that involves heavy labor.

After surgery, most patients find they can get back to enjoying things they loved to do before osteoarthritis impacted their lives. However, having a new knee joint has some limitations.  

“We ask patients to avoid very high-impact activities such as heavy weightlifting and extreme sports,” said Dr. Srivastava. “However, the vast majority of the time, patients can do more after their knee replacement than they could with their worn-out knee.”

If you suffer from knee pain that won’t go away, it may be time to consider your options so you can get back to doing the things you love. Click here to learn more about orthopedic services provided at McLaren Flint.