Person holding onto their knee

News | 28 days ago

5 Signs It May Be Time to Get a Joint Replacement

Do you have knee or hip pain? Learn the 5 signs it may be time for a joint replacement, as well as ways to manage joint pain.

Joint replacement surgery is typically recommended as a last resort when non-surgical treatments haven’t helped to manage a person’s pain or improve their joint function. If you are dealing with knee or hip pain, here are five signs knee or hip replacement surgery may be right for you:

  1. Persistent pain in hip/knee: If you experience persistent pain in your hip or knee joint that significantly impacts your daily activities and quality of life.
  2. Ineffective pain management: If the pain cannot be adequately controlled with medication, injections or other non-surgical treatments.
  3. X-rays show bone-on-bone: If X-ray images reveal significant joint damage, such as bone-on-bone contact due to cartilage loss and suggest advanced arthritis or other conditions.
  4. Pain is constant: If your joint pain or stiffness is felt even when resting or if you are experiencing significant swelling or joint deformity.
  5. Medical professional recommends surgery: If your doctor or orthopedic specialist determines that you are a safe candidate for joint replacement surgery based on factors such as your overall health, weight and the severity of your condition.

Causes of hip and knee pain

Hip and knee pain can stem from various causes. Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis resulting from joint wear and tear over time, is the most common cause. Other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and even psoriasis, can contribute to joint pain. Avascular necrosis, characterized by the loss of blood supply to the hip joints, can also lead to severe pain, necessitating joint replacement surgery.

Pain management

Lifestyle modifications such as weight control through exercise and diet, alongside over-the-counter medications and knee braces, are recommended to manage pain and potentially avoid surgery. Alternative therapies like physical therapy and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units can also provide relief. 

However, for those who require surgery, ensuring candidacy is vital. This includes looking at a person’s weight, diabetes control and overall health. Despite common misconceptions, age alone does not determine if someone is safe to have surgery.

Not all individuals with arthritis require joint replacement, as some may manage without surgery. Additionally, weight loss should be worked on prior to surgery as studies have shown that it is not necessarily easier afterwards. Surgical options vary, from traditional to robotic-assisted, and from anterior or posterior surgery, with the key being the surgeon’s expertise rather than specific techniques.

Maintaining joint health through activity, balance and muscle tone post-surgery is crucial, as complications such as fractures and infections can arise. Understanding these factors and dispelling myths surrounding joint replacement surgery is important for informed decision-making and successful outcomes. And remember, each patient’s situation is unique. For instance, age may not matter as much as a person’s overall health.

Are your joints healthy?

Complete a short knee & hip health assessment to find out if you are at increased risk of developing knee or hip problems.

If you or a loved one are experiencing joint pain, schedule an appointment with one of our joint replacement specialists at 704-863-HURT (4878) or AtriumHealth.org/HURT.