Is It Time for A Joint Replacement?
According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, the crucial factor in deciding to have a knee or hip replacement is the degree of pain and how much it affects your life. The Harvard experts, authors of Knees and Hips: A Troubleshooting Guide to Knee and Hip Pain, list six signals that it’s time to replace a knee or hip:
- You can no longer complete routine daily tasks without help.
- You have pain that keeps you awake at night despite the use of medications; or pain that keeps you from walking or bending over; pain that isn’t relieved by rest or non-surgical approaches.
- Your doctor says that simple surgical procedures probably won’t help you.
- You have osteoarthritis and feel the disease is wearing you down physically, emotionally, and mentally.
- You’re suffering severe side effects from knee or hip medications.
- Tests show advanced arthritis or significant joint damage.
According to the Harvard experts, the right surgeon and hospital can have a significant effect on the success of your operation. In general, they say, you can expect a better result and fewer complications if your surgeon does the operation at least 100 times annually and operates in a hospital where replacements are routinely.
Once you’ve decided that joint replacement is indicated, the Harvard experts suggest that you ask a prospective surgeon these questions:
Are you board-certified in orthopedic surgery?
Are you fellowship trained?
How often do you perform this surgery?
What kind of results would you expect for someone in my condition?
May I speak with any of your patients who have had this surgery?
What complications occur most frequently, and how do you deal with them?
Do you usually work with a particular physical therapist or rehabilitation center?
For more on strategies for pain-free knees and hips and a special bonus section on knee and hip replacement, buy Knees and Hips: A Troubleshooting Guide to Knee and Hip Pain by Harvard Medical School.