Knee replacements can provide a new lease on life for many of the 9.3% of Australians (2.3 million people, or 1 in every 11 Aussies) who suffer from osteoarthritis. Relegating prolonged pain to the past – and striding happily into the future – can not only improve your physical health but also your mental state and attitude to life.
But how do you know if you need a partial knee replacement, total knee replacement, or a different form of treatment? To help you understand the common signs and symptoms, this blog will run through 5 signs that might mean you need a knee replacement.
1. Pain in the knees
Recurring and prolonged joint pain is the most common reason to explore knee replacement surgery. The trouble with knee pain is there are numerous types (and even more triggers).
Prolonged or recurring pain
If you notice a recurring pain in your joints, pay attention to what triggers it. You may notice the pain flares without a trigger or increases gradually with a delay after you exercise.
Pain that interrupts your life
When knee pain prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep or sitting through a movie, it could be a warning sign of osteoarthritis.
You can be forgiven for thinking your knee aches after a run because you pushed a little too hard. However, keep a close eye on the pain because there is a fine line between overexertion and doing permanent damage – especially if the joint is already weakened from osteoarthritis.
2. Swelling at the knees
How your knee looks is often as important as how it feels. Watch for signs of swelling around the knee joint, especially when you notice any of the other signs listed here.
Swelling might be a sign that the cartilage in your knee joints has worn away, leaving bone to rub on bone causing a local (and often painful) reaction.
3. Limited mobility
Osteoarthritis, the slow degradation of cartilage, is notorious for limiting joint movement. Knee replacements may not be the only solution to restore mobility. You might also benefit from physical therapy, weight loss, or certain medications. It all depends on:
- Extent of joint immobility
- Pain levels
- Underlying health factors
What matters is getting to the root of the problem and addressing it with targeted, long-term treatment. Limited mobility can swiftly erode your quality of life, leaving you feeling defeated when there is a solution waiting to be administered.
4. Stiff or grating joints
Prolonged joint stiffness, especially first thing in the morning or while doing everyday things like driving a car, can be an early indicator of osteoarthritis. You might also hear a grating sound while walking or running which, whether accompanied by pain or not, should be like an alarm bell telling you to book a specialist consultation.
5. Lifestyle limitations
Some days seem like more of a battle than others. When knee pain, stiffness, or uncertainty starts to affect the things you enjoy then it might be time for a professional opinion. Leaving osteoarthritis unchecked and allowing it to progress can have serious consequences:
- Hip, ankle and feet problems caused by an awkward gait
- Weakened muscles
- Overall decline in health from hesitation to live an active life
- Social isolation and depression brought on by limited mobility
- Further deterioration and damage requiring surgery later
Knee replacements, as with any surgery, carry inherent risks and should warrant serious consideration. So, if you are suffering from knee troubles that don’t seem to be going away, book a knee replacement consultation with Dr Jens Buelow. After a thorough investigation and qualified diagnosis, you may find surgery – or an alternative such as exercise or medication – can restore a quality of life you thought was gone forever.