Knee pain is almost a universal occurrence in elderly. Severe knee pain can severely impact quality of life. Treatment of such pain can be challenging, and is initially managed with physical therapies and joint injections. Most of the patients will have significant relief in joint pain and movement with physiotherapy. When these conservative modalities fail to produce significant pain relief, surgery may be the best option. One of the commonest question that comes up in a patient’s mind is, “When should I go for joint replacement surgery?” Here are few of the indications, why you should consider a joint replacement surgery.
Pain that limits your mobility
Pain is the most common indication for knee replacements. Pain that does not respond to conservative methods like physiotherapy, analgesics or steroid injection into joint, and pain that markedly limits daily activities. When pain stops activities of daily living and pain restricts one to bed, then it is time definitely to go for surgery, as the condition gets worse with time and medical problems caused by immobility like Deep Vein thrombosis, increase which make surgery more risky.
Persistent immobility will lead to extreme weakness of muscles around the knee joint. This will adversely impact the outcome of joint replacement. Continued use of a damaged knee joint will likely lead to further deterioration and deformities that extend to bones beyond the vicinity of joint, making a future procedure more demanding with high chances of technical failure.
Pain medications have intolerable side effects
Even though pain medications improve the mobility, but the complications from these medications can severely affect the health and well being. Non-Steroidal anti inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS which are the most commonly prescribed drugs for such pain, have considerable side effects like peptic ulcers.
Increased dependency on others
If the joint pain, restriction of joint movement, and deformity is causing increased dependency on others for daily activities, then it is not advisable to delay surgery any longer. Walking with a stick or physical help from others, affects the quality of life adversely
Mental and emotional exhaustion
Besides physical pain and limitations, osteoarthritis causes significant mental and emotional changes which also adversely affect the quality of life. This results from continuous pain, pain affecting normal sleep, and loss of mobility.
You can’t do what you want to
If you are unable to do, what your heart desires like driving a car, walking in a park or travelling, because of joint pain and stiffness, then it is time to rethink about your treatment options.
With increasing longevity, sixty can not be considered the age limit to retire from the enjoyable things in life. In a couple of weeks after surgery, you can be back to the life you wanted, pain free and independent.
Disclaimer- This article is for the general awareness of the patients and cannot replace expert medical advice. Patient treatments need to be individualised and that can be decided based on clinical examination and evaluation by a trained physician.
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About the author: Dr. Debashish Chanda is an Orhtopaedician and Joint replacement surgeon in Gurgaon with more than 300 joint replacements under his belt.