5 Signs You May Need a Knee Replacement

May 5, 2022

Do I need knee surgery? Orthopedic Surgery in Iowa

Chronic knee pain can have a serious impact on your daily life as well as your overall mental and physical health. If you have chronic knee pain, you've likely spoken to your doctor and tried out various methods to relieve it. But at what point do you consult an orthopedic surgeon about a knee replacement? Here are five symptoms that are a sign you may need knee replacement surgery

Nonsurgical Treatments Are No Longer Effective

Initially, physical therapy, icing, a knee brace, changing diet and exercise, and other ways to treat knee pain helped offer a degree of pain relief. When these non-surgical pain treatment methods stop working or stop working as well as they had in the past, orthopedic surgery may be the next step. 

Visual Changes 

There are a number of visual signs that can indicate the need for a knee replacement. 

Knee Pain and Knee Swelling - Orthopedic Specialists Iowa

Swollen Knees: Your knees are always swollen or puffy, despite taking anti-inflammatories, attending physical therapy, and/or icing your knee. 

Deformed Knees: Severe arthritis and cartilage deterioration can lead to your knees appearing bowed or “Knock-Kneed”.

Limited Range of Motion: You are no longer able to straighten your leg or notice distinct changes in your walk, such as a persistent limp or inability to walk up stairs.

Constant and/or Severe Pain

After an injury or a workout, knee pain can be perfectly normal. However, if you are experiencing consistent knee pain, even while resting or doing non-strenuous activities, this is a cause for concern. If your knee pain wakes you up in the middle of the night or keeps you from falling asleep, you should contact an orthopedic specialist. 

Limited Mobility

As previously discussed, reduced range of motion in your leg is a definite indicator that there is an underlying issue that is not likely to go away on its own. Painful and stiff knees that prevent you from going up stairs, straightening your leg, bending, etc. are common mobility issues.

Changes to Your Lifestyle

If pain and mobility in your knees are impacting your daily lifestyle and preventing you from doing the things you usually do, a joint replacement may be needed. If you’ve had to cut out your usual exercise activities, (going for walks, biking, or swimming) more conditions may develop. Cutting out regular activity can lead to other health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and much more. 

Daily activities such as gardening or household chores are also often stopped in the hopes that the pain will go away with rest. Chronic joint pain does not go away solely due to rest. Though it may get better for a time, it will likely resume as soon as your usual activities do. In addition to the health risks from the lifestyle changes, there is also the concern of a decreased quality of life. Stopping the things you enjoy and your routine duties is not a sustainable way to live, physically or mentally. 

If you’ve experienced one or more of these signs, you should consult an orthopedic doctor to discuss your condition and options.

Types of Knee Surgery and Recovery

A total knee replacement surgery (total knee arthroplasty) involves replacing the joint ends of the femur and the tibia with prostheses consisting of surgical metal and plastic. A partial knee replacement is done when only a small portion of the tissue and bone in the knee is damaged. Once the new joint has healed, the patient is typically able to resume normal activity with little or no pain. Knee replacement recovery time can depend on the age of the patient and the extent of the surgery. 

For patients that receive a knee replacement when they are young, dislocate their prosthetic, or experience other extenuating factors, joint revision surgery may be necessary. 

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