If you’ve been living with pain in your knee but have put off getting joint replacement surgery, now may be the time to speak to your surgeon. Many patients hope to find relief from pain without the need for major surgery, but delaying the procedure can increase the risk of damaging the joint further, making surgery more difficult.
Patients with knee arthritis should consult with their physician to determine the right course of treatment for their situation. This may include trying more simpler treatments, including oral medications, cortisone injections, use of walking aids, and physical therapy. However, a prolonged delay may result in more pain and less movement, causing the patient to miss out on activities they love and live an active life.
What are some of the concerns about delaying knee replacement surgery?
Worsening of Knee Deformity and Arthritis
Some people do have accelerated changes in the knee due to an injury, but arthritis progression is gradual and develops slowly. However, the changes don’t occur overnight, even in these situations, increasing deformity of the knee joint.
Most often, in patients with knee arthritis, the joint becomes an increasing knock-kneed or bow-legged. Due to this deformation, the joint replacement can become more complicated, requiring your surgeon to use specialized implants or perform more extensive surgery.
In the same light, the knee moves less as joint arthritis progresses. Less movement may cause the soft tissues – including ligaments and muscles – to contract, causing stiffness. This is especially prominent in patients who have limited mobility prior to surgery and can hinder the expected range of motion after surgery.
As arthritis progresses, patients often decrease activity to reduce pain during everyday activities. With decreased activity, muscles will weaken, providing less support and a weaker point from which you will begin recovery after knee replacement surgery. The longer one waits, the more this can become an issue.
In addition, less activity can lead to weight gain, causing existing health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure to worsen. The added weight creates more stress on your new joint, possibly increasing recovery time and placing more stress on all your weight-bearing joints or causing the patient to favor their opposite knee.
Your surgeon can usually overcome the technical difficulty of performing a joint replacement on someone who has delayed her surgery. Still, there can be patients who develop medical problems due to aging and decreased physical activity. Weight gain decreased endurance, cardiac and pulmonary conditions are all concerns for people who put off joint replacement for too long.
Dr. DeClaire and his expert team at Michigan Knee Institute strive to provide patients with the best possible outcomes for injured and damaged knees. The practice offers full-service treatments, including minimally invasive partial and total knee replacements, robotic knee surgery, outpatient knee replacement, cartilage restoration, and arthroscopy to help get patients back on their feet and back to their active lives. Learn more about their practice at michiganknee.com or by calling (248) 650-2400.