Total knee replacement surgery sounds scary and intimidating to most people, which is natural, because it is a major surgery. But the benefits are potentially tremendous to your quality of life – if it’s necessary.
Sometimes, having this surgery isn’t the best recommendation because it may not be needed. Other times, having a total knee replacement is the best course of action. It all depends on your circumstances and your doctor’s recommendations.
So, when does total knee replacement make sense?
The first thing to look for is the nature of your pain and injury. If you have pain that is progressively getting worse, and have limited or impaired function of your leg – and neither seems to be getting better – then you definitely need to have your knee examined. If both of these things are true, total knee replacement surgery may be an excellent choice.
Replacement surgery is also recommended if there has been a serious deterioration of the knee due to injury, arthritis, or another destructive joint disease. Osteoarthritis of the knee is the leading reason why knees are replaced. Sometimes, the damage is too severe to be repaired, and the entire joint has to be replaced.
If your orthopedic surgeon can offer you a less-intensive solution, like a partial knee replacement, he or she probably will. But, it depends on the damage to your knee not just today, but what might be there in the future.
Testing for Total Knee Replacement Surgery
To evaluate you as a candidate for this type of surgery, your doctor will go through several tests and procedures.
They’ll evaluate the other joints next to your knee, such as the hip and the ankle, to see if the surgery will deliver the desired function. If either of those two joints are seriously damaged, replacement surgery could actually make that damage worse, or at least limit the benefits of the knee surgery.
Your doctor will also review your medication, since some may complicate the surgery or the recovery.
A standard battery of X-rays and MRI scans will probably be necessary to completely evaluate the knee. An MRI can reveal if there are other causes of the pain and lack of function, such as a stress fracture. But X-rays will reveal most of what your doctor needs to know.
Additionally, you could undergo chest X-rays, blood tests, urine tests, and an EKG to see if you have anemia, infection, a heart or lung disease, or anything else that could complicate surgery.
The best way to know for sure is to talk to your doctor and your orthopedic surgeon. They can give you guidance as to what you should expect if you do have to have total knee replacement surgery and walk you through the process. If the surgery goes well, you can expect less pain and more function as you recover and rehabilitate – giving you the quality of life you may now be missing.
Have any questions or concerns regarding knee procedures? Please reach out to us and we would be happy to address your inquiries and offer the best solutions for your situation.