Yes, in today’s scenario the number of joint replacement surgery have increased and at the same time, the number of patients benefitting from this joint replacement surgery has also increased. But it does not mean that all types of knees or joint pain are recommended for joint replacement surgery.
Before concluding on anything, let’s understand who is recommended for the joint replacement surgery and why?
Patients approaching with joint pain complaints are evaluated on type, cause, and duration of pain. The doctor also tries to understand the impact of joint pain on the mobility-related functioning of the patient, and the quality of life of the patient. The radiological imaging X-Ray further helps in understanding the exact cause of the pain.
One of the main causes of knee/joint pain is considered to be Osteoarthritis (OA) which is degenerative in nature where the symptoms get worsen with progressive stages. It is classified into mild, moderate, and severe stage OA. Each stage of OA is treated based on the patient’s complaint and revelation by X-ray on the status of bone and supporting structures.
The doctor considers the joint replacement surgery for the patient only when the joint pain is –
- Preventing a good night’s sleep
- Reoccurring or persistent
- Impacting basic daily activities like walking/climbing the staircase
- Causing swelling or stiffness in knees
- Causing knee deformity (bowing in or out)
Joint replacement surgery is a lifestyle-changing operation and is subjective to the patient’s choice of opting for the surgery when all other alternatives and options have failed to provide relief from joint pain and improve mobility. Not all cases of OA require to undergo joint replacement surgery as mild to moderate cases can be managed with conservative or alternate treatment. But the advanced OA stage where the damage to the joint is severe as visible in the radiological image (X-Ray) is recommended for joint replacement surgery. And the patient is the main authority to decide on undertaking the surgery.
Joint pain related to injury or soft tissue-related conditions like tendonitis or bursitis heal with resting and passing time whereas chronic painful conditions need to be treated with the immobility of the affected joint, modification in lifestyle, and medication/alternate therapy (physiotherapy) for easing the pain. For some patients, these alternatives sometimes even postpone or avoid the need for surgery altogether.
Delaying on treatment options will delay the relief from pain and an opportunity to re-live life without any mobility limitations.