When To Know If Someone Needs A Knee Replacement

By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC

When To Know If Someone Needs A Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery usually is recommended when the cartilage in your knee becomes so damaged that it creates constant pain making it difficult to function.

Here are some other factors which can contribute to when to know if someone needs a knee replacement:

  • Arthritis is a common occurrence, however, surgery may be needed if it starts to interfere with daily life.
  • Your knee is painful and hurts when you are resting. 
  • Your knee is constantly stiff or swollen. 
  • You have had a knee injury.
  • Due to your physical activity, you are unable to run or hike due to pain in the knee. 

After reviewing x-rays of your knee, an orthopedic specialist would recommend whether a knee replacement is right for you. Usually, surgery is the last option. Your doctor may recommend conservative treatments initially such as:

  • Exercise.
  • Physical Therapy.
  • Injections.
  • Medications.Total knee replacements are a common surgery offered by JOI doctors.Image of total knee replacement.

Total Knee Replacement vs. Partial Knee Replacement

There are certain instances when a partial knee replacement would be more beneficial than a total knee replacement. 

  • When only one side of the knee has been worn down or damaged and the other side is still healthy. 
  • This type of surgery replaces either just the medial (inside) or lateral (outside) aspect of your femur and tibia. 
  • This is not nearly as common as a total knee replacement because it is rare that just one side gets worn down. 
  • Although arthritis may be more severe on one side of the knee, it usually affects most of the knee including under the kneecap.  
  • There are rare occasions in which just one side has been damaged, such as in a traumatic or acute injury.

Partial knee replacements are rare, but performed by JOI MD's.Image of Uni-compartmental knee replacement.

How Long Do Knee Replacements Usually Last?

On average, knee replacements usually last about 20 years. The following play a big role in the longevity of the replacement:

  • Weight. If you weigh more, the joint wears faster.
  • Overall health.
  • Level of activity. If you are very active, the joint will wear down faster. Some sports or exercises may place more strain than desired on the joint. 
  • Age of patient. Younger patients need their knee replacement to last a longer period of time. Also, younger patients tend to be more active. These factors could lead to the possibility of a revision surgery. 

There are things a patient can do to improve their outcome. Preparing before surgery by doing "Prehab" and other recommended exercises can greatly improve healing after surgery. 

How Successful are Total Knee Replacement Surgeries?

Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common surgeries with U.S. doctors performing over 600,000 each year. Knee replacement surgery has a very high success rate.

  • 95% of patients are satisfied with their total knee replacement. 
  • There is a less than 2 percent failure rate in total knee replacement surgeries. 
  • 9 out of 10 patients experience immediate relief from pain after a knee replacement surgery.
  • In many cases, patients are able to resume activities like golf and walking that they were forced to give up years ago. 

To schedule for physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.  We hope that this article answers the question of when to know if someone needs a knee replacement. 

If you have knee problems, don't wait. Come to JOI and see a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in Joint Replacements.  

To schedule an appointment with a knee surgeon, please call (904)JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. 

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