The country’s aging population is a contributing factor to the increasing number of knee replacement surgeries performed every year. From 600,000 surgeries a year, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) expects this number to double by 2030.
For patients with severe knee arthritis, knee replacement surgery is considered the most effective and cost-efficient form of treatment. When conservative treatments are no longer working, getting the surgery is the best way to relieve pain, treat leg deformity, improve range of motion, and help you return to your normal lifestyle.
What to do if you’re not ready for surgery?
It is not easy to say yes to surgery. Making this critical decision takes time, and you should take as much time as you can to consider the best course of treatment based on your situation. If you are not ready, you can raise your concerns with our orthopedic surgeon in the Spring Hill area, Fl, so that you can explore your options and make an informed decision.
However, you should bear in mind that although delaying surgery for several months has only minor consequences, prolonging it for years can lead to poorer outcomes and higher costs.
Why is delaying knee replacement surgery risky?
Time is of great importance to maximize the benefits of knee replacement surgery. A study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has revealed that waiting too long before getting a knee replacement can deprive you of its full benefits.
When knee replacement is delayed, arthritis can further deteriorate the condition and function of the affected knee. This leads to the inability to exercise and very limited physical activity, consequently contributing to other lifestyle diseases.
In knee replacement, a patient’s mobility before the surgery is an indicator and predictor of expected mobility after the surgery. Compared to patients who get timely surgery, those who delay still have reduced mobility even after the operation.
What will happen if knee replacement surgery is delayed?
Delaying knee replacement can lead to a more complicated surgery and a slower recovery in patients with severe arthritis because of the following:
Joint stiffness is a common symptom of osteoarthritis. The longer a patient suffers from the disease, the lesser the movement. With limited movement, the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues around the knee joint contract or tighten. This further limits the patient’s mobility and worsens the stiffness in the joint.
Patients with arthritis of the knee suffer from pain during and after movement. This can prompt them to use the affected knee even less. When not used, the muscles surrounding the knee may weaken and lose their mass. This can make physical therapy and rehabilitation after surgery even more challenging.
Exacerbate joint deformity
Knee deformity in osteoarthritis occurs gradually. It can range from mild to severe and debilitating. In patients with osteoarthritis, the weak muscles surrounding the knees lead to bowed leg or knock knee deformity. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the chronic inflammation can permanently damage the cartilage and tendons, affecting the shape of the knee joint.
The worse the deformity, the more complicated the surgery. In extreme cases, the surgeon may need to use specialized implants. The patient may also need more extensive surgery to correct the deformity.
When one part of the body is problematic, other parts try to compensate. Patients who have arthritis on one knee tend to depend on the good knee for mobility. If done over a long period, this can overuse the good knee. As a result, patients may also complain of pain in the opposite knee.
General health problems
Arthritis is common and more severe in older patients. Similarly, the risk for lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart problems increase with age. These health conditions can further complicate the recovery process.
When to delay knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is the last resort when all other options have failed to improve the symptoms. The consideration for surgery is based on the severity of symptoms.
If non-surgical interventions—such as losing weight, taking medications, doing physical therapy, and using assistive devices—have improved the symptoms and quality of life, knee replacement surgery may not be needed yet.
When to expedite knee replacement surgery?
In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to expedite your knee replacement surgery. Such circumstances can be indicated with the following symptoms:
- Severe, debilitating pain and stiffness that interfere with simple activities
- Knee pain even when at rest
- Long-term knee inflammation that doesn’t respond to medications
- Bow-legged or knock knee deformity
- No improvement of symptoms after non-surgical interventions
If these are present, there is no reason to delay surgery further. Doing so will only make you experience worse pain, further deformity, and poorer quality of life.
Where can I find the best orthopedic surgeons in Brooksville, Fl?
If you or somebody you know is living with the pain of an arthritic knee, to the point where it is affecting their life, perhaps it’s time to consider a replacement. As with any surgery, you want to make sure you are in safe hands. You want a surgeon who specializes in knee replacement.
Dr. Tarabishy is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is a specialist in knee replacement with over 30 years’ experience. He is committed to patients and offers the highest quality treatment solutions in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Week Wachee, and the surrounding areas. He also offers robotic knee replacement surgery near Spring Hill, an innovative technology to ensure precision and better outcomes after knee surgery.
If you would like more information about our orthopedic services, do not hesitate to contact us.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.