If you are experiencing knee pain that doesn’t seem to get any better with other treatment options and is affecting your quality of life, it might be time to consider total knee replacement surgery.
If the points in this Healthline video apply to you, ask your doctor if surgery might be the right option for you.
Watch the video and read this article to help you decide.
Before recommending surgery, a doctor will usually recommend trying a number of other options first. These include losing weight, if necessary; doing exercise; and taking pain relief medication.
However, if your answer to some or most of the following questions is yes, maybe surgery is the right option.
- Does knee pain keep you up at night?
- Are you having trouble walking?
- Do you have pain when you stand up or get out of a car?
- Can you walk upstairs easily?
- Are over-the-counter (OTC) medications not working?
However, surgery can be a major undertaking. If one doctor recommends the procedure, it may be worth seeking a second opinion.
Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure, and most people experience improvements in pain, mobility, and quality of life.
Here are some points to bear in mind:
Every year, over 700,000 people have knee replacement surgery in the US, and over 600,000 have a total knee replacement.
- In over 90% of people, pain levels and mobility improve significantly after surgery.
- Many people can return to the activities they enjoyed before having problems with their knee.
- Fewer than 2 percent of people experience severe complications.
If your doctor suggests surgery, be sure to ask plenty of questions. Click here for some ideas about what to ask.
Recovery time will vary between individuals, but it usually takes a maximum of 12 months to regain all your strength.
According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS), you will probably:
- Start to walk, with assistance, on the day of your surgery.
- Be walking without assistance after 2–3 weeks.
- Spend 1–3 days in the hospital.
- Have your doctor’s permission to drive in 4–6 weeks.
- Return to work in 4–6 weeks or 3 months if your job involves physical strain.
- Return to most activities within 3 months.
Learn more about the timeline for recovery from knee surgery.
However, the speed of your recovery will depend on various factors, such as:
- your age and overall health
- whether or not you follow the instructions of your healthcare team, especially regarding medication, wound care, and exercise
- the strength of your knee before surgery
- your weight before and after surgery
Get tips on strengthening your knee muscles before surgery.
Knee replacement surgery doesn’t only reduce pain and make it easier for you to get around.
Staying active is crucial for good health. A knee replacement may make it easier for you to get regular exercise. This can help manage or prevent obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many other health conditions.
Strong knees also offer more support and stability, so there is less chance of having a fall.
Most people’s insurance will cover the cost of knee surgery, as long as a doctor says it is necessary. If you are not sure, check with your insurance company.
Even with insurance, however, there may be other costs, such as:
- coinsurance or copays
You may also need to pay for transportation, care in the home, and other items.
Knee replacement surgery can be expensive if you don’t have insurance, but prices vary. You may get a better deal in a different city, state, or medical center.
Learn more about the cost of knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery can mean a new lease of life for people who are experiencing pain, mobility problems, and a reduced quality of life because of knee osteoarthritis or an injury.
A number of strategies can help manage knee pain and delay the need for surgery. However, if these strategies are no longer working, knee replacement surgery may be the best option.
Your doctor can help you decide.