If you’re in a lot of pain when you walk or get up from a chair, and you can’t keep up with your daily activities, you might wonder: Should I think about knee replacement surgery?
How to Make a Decision
Pain, swelling, and stiffness. It might be time for surgery if it hurts so much when you walk or go up and downstairs that it’s hard to get through your day. Another sign is that your knee is painful at night or even when you’re resting.
Other treatments didn’t work. “We always try to start with simpler things first and move to more complicated solutions,” Lewallen says. That means before you get surgery, you’ve probably already tried anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and swelling, physical therapy, and maybe even weight loss.
Knee deformity. “Do you notice you’re becoming bowlegged or knock-kneed or your knee won’t go straight anymore?” says orthopedic surgeon Claudette Lajam, MD, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “It’s usually a giveaway when that starts to happen.”
The quality of life. If your pain limits what you can do every day, you may want to talk to a surgeon. “It’s about timing,” says Charles Nelson, MD, chief of joint replacement at Penn Orthopaedics in Philadelphia. “People think surgery when symptoms are bad enough that they’re not functioning to their satisfaction.”
When Knee Surgery May Not Be for You
Infections. Make sure you get them treated before surgery. For instance, take care of gum and urine infections. It will lower the chance of getting an infection in your new knee.