Simple answer…I don’t know.
Real question is do YOU think it’s time for a knee replacement?
This conversation comes up week after week in my specialist knee clinic. So, let me be clear that for most of you the decision to proceed with knee replacement surgery is yours. It is not up to your surgeon to decide.
I will help guide you through the decision-making process and this process should be shared between us.
If your surgeon tells you that “you need a new knee” or says things like “you can have a sore knee or a new knee”, then you should be looking for another surgeon.
Why is that?
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a degenerative, inflammatory disease that affects our joints. Some people have minimal pain despite pretty awful looking x-rays and there are some who have terrible pain despite pretty normal looking x-rays. This means that I can’t just look at an x-ray and tell you whether or not you’d benefit from a knee replacement.
I treat the patient not the x-rays!
Your decision to proceed with a knee replacement should be based on:
- Whether your pain is having a significant impact on your quality of life. Only you can tell that.
- You have realistic goals…I see many patients who only have pain when they run or play tennis who think that a knee replacement is right for them (note - it usually isn’t).
- Your pain has not improved with non-surgical treatments such as weight loss, exercise, physiotherapist and joint injections.
If you’re suffering from knee pain – get your free copy of my guide to find out everything you need to know about how to manage your symptoms.
Setting your goals
Having realistic goals is a key factor in getting the best results from your knee replacement.
Making sure your goals are realistic and working with you to help you achieve them is what a good surgeon will do.
I tell my patients that my number one goal is to restore their ability to walk comfortably. I don’t restrict any activity following surgery and will allow you to play tennis, swim, golf etc.…but these are bonuses, icing on the cake if you will.
If your goal from knee replacement surgery is to be able to jog again, play an extra set of tennis, start mountain walking then you should seriously consider the other options available to you and deferring knee replacement surgery.
Research shows that as many as 2 in every 10 people who have had a knee replacement are not completely happy with the result. Much of that might well be due to mismatched goals and expectations.
Top tip - Discuss your goals with your surgeon. Make sure you are both on the same page.
Why should I wait for my knee replacement?
Let’s be honest. For the majority of people, the results of knee replacement surgery are fantastic. When performed well in the right patient at the right time the results are life changing. But more than 1 in 10 people are unhappy following knee replacement surgery. That is the reality that we observe across the world.
In spite of a technically well performed knee replacement surgery some people still have pain. It could be due to an unknown allergy to metal, an over production of scar tissue, infection…there may be no obvious reason at all. This can be very difficult and challenging for patients.
If you really needed the knee replacement, you made an informed decision to proceed, you’d tried other treatments, and it was your decision, then it might be easier to deal with any complications should they arise.
Risks of knee replacement surgery
The overall chance of getting a serious complication is not very high…but if a complication happens to you, then it is a very real problem.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits and the risks of knee replacement surgery, I’ve put together a short booklet, Your Guide to Knee Replacement Surgery which you can get your FREE copy of here.
It can be your best option
In the right circumstances, a knee replacement might well be your best option to get rid of your severe arthritis pain and improve your quality of life. For most people it is a very successful operation. For some unfortunately it isn’t.
The more you know, the better informed your decision is, the more likely it is you will make the decision that’s right for you.
Have you have been diagnosed with knee arthritis?
Would you like a personalised assessment of the potential benefits and the risks of surgery based on your symptoms and your general health?
If the answer is YES, then get in touch, we can help you get the answers you need with your own bespoke - MY Knee Doc Knee Replacement Decision Aid – simply drop us an e-mail or fill in the contact form on the website and we’ll be in touch.
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If you're suffering from knee pain - get your free copy of my guide to find out everything you need to know about how to manage your symptoms.