How Much Joint Pain Is Too Much?
Chronic hip or knee pain can significantly interfere with life. As people get older, some joint discomfort is normal and expected. However, if this pain is disrupting healthy life, a joint replacement may be an option. If one or more of these 5 signs are present, talk to a doctor about whether to consider a total joint replacement.
1. You can’t get a good night’s sleep
People can toss and turn at night for many reasons. However, if chronic pain is turning a person into an insomniac, intervention is needed. Pain that keeps a person up at night keeps a person from walking well, or doesn’t go away with rest may require surgery.
2. Grocery shopping is a burden
When people have advanced joint pain, daily tasks such as grocery shopping quickly become a burden. If getting in and out of the car, climbing stairs, or carrying groceries into the house is difficult, a joint replacement may be in order.
3. Your osteoarthritis is wearing you down
Arthritis doesn’t always require surgery. However, if someone has an osteoarthritis diagnosis, over time, the disease can cause significant joint damage. After a while, the condition may wear a person down physically, mentally, and emotionally.
4. Other treatments aren’t working
Surgery is not the first line of treatment for pain. When someone has joint pain, a doctor will often recommend other treatments first to manage the discomfort. For example, pain medications, physical therapy, or periodic steroid injections can all improve symptoms. When these treatments no longer work, patients may start to consider the benefits of a joint replacement.
5. Pain is getting worse
Choosing surgery is a big decision. Experts recommend that patients try physical therapy and other nonsurgical treatment methods for 3-6 months before starting the surgery conversation. But if the pain is still worsening after this period, a joint replacement may be the best option.
What happens during a joint replacement?
With today’s advances in technology, many people can have a joint replacement in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), where surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. During the procedure, a surgeon removes the damaged cartilage and bone at the affected joint. A prosthesis is fitted to mimic the movement and shape of the natural joint. Recovery time will vary for each patient. In general, the first few months after the operation focus on exercise and physical therapy.
Improve your quality of life
The primary reason for patients to get a joint replacement is to improve the quality of life. Surgeons recommend the treatment when a total joint replacement is the best way to help patients move easier and live healthier. Talk to an orthopedic specialist to find out more about total joint replacements.