Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Are You a Candidate for a Total Knee Replacement?
Deciding on Knee Replacement Surgery
You should weigh a number of factors before deciding to undergo a total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. An orthopedic surgeon can guide you through the process and help you determine whether the surgery will address your knee problems.
Click “next” to read about the considerations that will be taken into account when deciding whether you are a TKR candidate.
Surgeons recommend knee replacements most often for individuals age 55 to 70. That’s because younger patients experience higher failure rates and their knee replacements wear out sooner. Over the course of a decade or two, the prosthesis wears down. As a result, the younger you are when you have your initial surgery, the higher the likelihood is that a revision (replacement) surgery will be needed in the future. And, unfortunately, revisions are often less effective because there’s less bone to support the implant.
Knee Pain & Mobility
What is your degree of pain and impaired function? Through a questionnaire and an evaluation, an orthopedist can determine whether your pain and mobility limitations are severe enough to make you a candidate for a knee replacement. It’s also helpful to have a clear understanding of your current physical imitations and be able to accurately describe them to your doctor. An effective way to do this is to record your daily experiences before the appointment.
Your physician will ask you questions about your knee function to assess the stability of your knee. For example, her or she might ask you if your knee gives out while walking. In addition, your orthopedist will observe your current movement and will assess muscle strength, swelling, range of motion, ligament stability, and knee alignment. At the end, he or she will make a recommendation for you about a course of a treatment.
The medical team will take x-rays and possibly use an MRI to view damage in the knee and surrounding tissues, understand why degeneration is occurring, and ensure that a knee replacement will address the underlying problems.
Ruling Out Other Causes of Knee Pain
Your doctor may require a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis or a knee infection that could be contributing to your pain and mobility problems. A total knee replacement cannot help you if you have inflammatory arthritis or certain other degenerative processes.
Other Treatment Options
Your doctor will want to know if you have tried other methods to control the pain and manage your knee problems. These include medication, physical therapy, weight loss, specific exercises, and injections of hyaluronic acid (pictured) to lubricate a joint severely affected by osteoarthritis. You might also be a candidate for arthroscopic surgery, which removes damaged cartilage. A surgeon will likely recommend a total or partial knee replacement only after you have exhausted all other methods.
You might be intimidated by the idea of surgery and want to postpone it. Although it might be appropriate to wait, timing is important. Studies show that when a person who needs a knee replacement delays the surgery, there’s a greater risk of degenerative problems and a less successful outcome when the surgery finally takes place.
Making the Decision
Consult with an orthopedist to determine if surgery is right for you. Obtain a second opinion, if necessary. The decision whether to receive a total knee replacement shouldn’t be taken lightly.