Making the decision to have a hip or knee joint replacement surgery should not be taken lightly. Consideration should start with honest conversations with your family and friends about the level of pain you are experiencing and how your quality of life has been impacted.
Although arthritis is the biggest qualifier for joint replacement surgery, people who experience developmental abnormalities, traumatic or sports-related injuries also qualify. Non-surgical methods should always be considered before surgery.
Non-Surgical Joint Pain Relief
According to the Arthritis Foundation, here are some non–surgical methods to reduce pain and improve mobility, including:
- Getting regular physical activity
- Strengthening muscles to help support the joint
- Stretching the joints to reduce stiffness and pain
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Balancing activity and rest
- Avoiding excessive, repetitive movements
- Using hot and cold therapy
- Employing assistive devices – including mobility aids like canes and walkers, bathing and toileting aids like grab bars and shower benches and devices you wear on your body, such as orthotics and braces
- Taking over–the counter or prescription medications for pain
- Managing pain with injections
- Doing physical or occupational therapy
- Trying cognitive behavioral therapy (a form of talk therapy), to help cope with the psychological effects of chronic pain
Once the joint pain, swelling and stiffness has reached an unbearable level and you have exhausted other pain relief methods, it is likely time to start the surgical conversation and see a joint replacement specialist.
Characteristics of Good Candidates
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you may be a good candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery if:
- You’re unable to perform daily activities due to pain or without help
- You experience pain or stiffness even when lying down or at rest
- You’re in pain despite taking medications or receiving injections
- You find that supportive devices, like walkers and canes, do not provide relief
- You did not experience improvement with physical therapy
- You have significant inflammation, swelling or joint deformity
Each person’s pain tolerance is different. But, if you are avoiding the activities that previously brought you joy, are changing your schedule based on how you feel, are feeling isolated or simply don’t recognize yourself when looking in the mirror, it is time to see a specialist.
Choosing a Surgeon
An orthopedic specialist is the best place to start when you have muscle or joint pain. Orthopedic specialists spend their careers focusing on a specific area. They develop a deep expertise that a generalist simply cannot offer. Specialists offer the most advanced treatments to manage your pain and injuries in the most efficient manner.
Finding the right surgeon can make a big difference to the success of your operation. In general, you are likely to have a better result and fewer complications if your surgeon specializes in your specific operation and operates in a hospital where replacements are routinely done.
Hip and Knee Care Experts
Operating in partnership with NOMS Healthcare, the Cleveland Hip and Knee Institute treats patients with all types of knee and hip disorders resulting from arthritis, typical wear, and tear of aging, as well as from traumatic and sports-related injuries. Our institute provides both surgical and non-operative treatments. To schedule an appointment call 800-HIP-7485.