Are You a Good Candidate For Joint Replacement?

Hip in need of joint replacementHaving a painful knee or hip can greatly interfere with your daily activities and your overall quality of life. Depending on your diagnosis, partial joint replacement surgery or total joint replacement surgery may be the solution to return you to your healthy, active life. The success of joint replacement surgery is reflected in how commonly it is performed: nearly one million people in the United States undergo joint replacement surgery every year.

Outlined below are signs and symptoms that might prompt you to seek the opinion of a hip and knee specialist for surgical care.

Inability to do your daily tasks

Many patients see a hip and knee surgeon when daily physical tasks that were previously effortless and painless become difficult or impossible because of hip or knee pain. Frequently, patients find that simple tasks like putting on their shoes or socks and going up and down stairs are challenging. Similarly, hip pain or knee pain may become severe after sitting or standing for long periods of time.

For many patients, recreational activities and sports are an important part of their daily or weekly lives. Hip and knee pain commonly limit performance and enjoyment of these pursuits. Depending on your activity requirements and the sports you play, joint replacement surgery can help keep you stay fit and competitive.

When hip or knee pain prevents you from sleeping at night or awakens you from sleep, an evaluation by a hip and knee specialist is recommended.

Severe medication side effects

If you have not seen success with medication or other nonsurgical treatments, or if you are experiencing serious side effects from your medication, it may be time to consider a joint replacement.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are requiring prescription medication for hip or knee pain, you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery.

Bone damage

Another key indication that you should seek a consultation with a joint replacement specialist is having an X-ray that shows joint damage, including loss of joint space, bone cysts, bone spurs, and abnormal angulation of the joint.

Arthritis causes joint damage. Over time, the joint damage is cumulative. Additionally, the soft tissues around the hip or knee can change to adapt to the bone changes. Soft tissue changes include contractures that reduce range of motion and damage to the ligaments around the joint that can cause the joint to be unstable.

Why you should get assessed

While the commonest reason for hip or knee pain and dysfunction in patients 50 years of age and older is arthritis, there are numerous other structures around the hip and knee that can cause pain at any age. For example, pinched nerves, tendonitis, and muscle strains are other common causes of hip and knee pain. A hip and knee specialist can help you identify the cause of pain and direct you to treatments most likely to eliminate it.

Furthermore, it is often difficult for patients to determine exactly where their pain is coming from. For example, pain originating from the hip most frequently causes groin pain, but sometimes it can present as buttock pain or knee pain. Similarly, pain originating in the back is often confused with hip pain. Therefore, it is important to have a doctor evaluate you thoroughly, establish the underlying cause of pain, and direct your treatment to eliminate pain and restore your function.

Who can answer your questions?

Dr. Alexander McLawhorn is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. He has particular expertise in hip and knee replacement surgery, including anterior total hip replacement, partial knee replacement, hip resurfacing, total hip and knee replacement, and revision joint replacement. If you have further questions about any of these treatments, please visit his FAQs page. Otherwise, he can answer any other questions you may have about the benefits of joint replacement in person. Please contact us today to book an appointment.

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