5 signs you may need a knee replacement

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Is knee pain putting your life on hold? Mr Stephen Tai, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon lists 5 reasons why it may be time to consider a knee replacement.

Knee replacement surgery is performed in people who have damage to their knee joints. The most common reason by far is osteoarthritis (wear and tear of the joint), although other causes can include rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injury and gout.

Damage to the joint most commonly manifests as knee pain, swelling, stiffness, instability and loss of function. Together, these symptoms can have a significant detrimental effect on an individual’s quality of life. Knee replacement surgery involves replacement of part or all of your damaged knee joint.

It is worthwhile discussing your symptoms with an orthopaedic surgeon to determine what treatment options are available for your painful knee, but here are 5 reasons why it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery.


1. Pain

The most common and most important symptom of all. This maybe occasional, associated with activity, or constant. The severity can range from mild through to severe. It may even prevent you from sleeping or wake you at night. Pain doesn't have to be immediate to be troublesome. Delayed or “payback” pain may be indicative of your knee wearing out.

The perception of pain is subjective, therefore, whether you’re someone who admits to having a relatively low pain threshold or someone who believes they have a high tolerance to pain, it is worthwhile seeking help if your pain limits what you can do.


2. Movement is reduced

As well as pain, the movement in your knee is commonly diminished. When you try to bend it, the knee can feel tight, can feel as though something is rubbing or catching, or the knee can lock or freeze in position. These symptoms, coupled with pain, will often result in a person losing confidence in their knee, particularly when walking or climbing stairs.


3. Lifestyle limitations

Whether you like to take a short walk to the end of the garden or regularly play 18 holes of golf, any symptom that limits the activities you enjoy should be taken seriously.


4. Your quality of life is impacted upon

The combination of pain, reduced function and an inability to perform normal day to day activities or pastimes that you love is likely to have a significant negative impact on your quality of life.


5. Non-surgical options are no longer assisting

Surgery should be your last option. There are a number of effective non-surgical treatments or life-style modifications which may mean that surgery is never required. If these alternatives fail to relieve, or stop offering relief, then surgery can be considered.


What do these signs indicate?

These signs suggest that your knee is damaged, worn away or diseased. The most common reason for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Sporting injuries and falls also cause knee damage.


How do I get a diagnosis for knee replacement surgery?

Your GP will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon if they think you are a candidate for knee replacement surgery. You can also book a private appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to directly discuss your pain and immobility issues.

Your knee surgeon will be able to diagnose your knee condition and advise you on your treatment options. They will discuss the potential pros and cons of having or delaying surgery, based on your age, health, lifestyle and level of activity you would normally perform.


What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacements have been performed in the UK since the 1970’s and they are now routine operations. With an ageing population, we can expect the number of knee replacements to continue to rise.

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, involves removing a damaged, worn or diseased knee and replacing it with an artificial joint. You may have a total knee replacement (TKR) where both sides of your knee joint are replaced, or a partial knee replacement (PKR), also known as uni-compartmental knee replacement, when only one side of your joint is replaced.


Why have a knee replacement?

The aim of knee replacement surgery is to relieve your pain, increase your mobility and improve your quality of life.

At Ramsay Health Care we offer a full range of diagnosis and surgery options for knee pain and other joint problems. You can find out more about our knee and other orthopaedic treatments, or if you’d like to talk to us about any knee or joint problems you’re having, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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