Determining whether or not to get a knee replacement surgery can be a hard decision. There are a lot of factors to consider and the answer depends a lot on your unique situation.
Here’s the usual scenario I’ve heard from countless individuals who have been told they need knee replacement surgery. They go to their doctor for some knee pain, the doctor takes an X-Ray, sees some arthritis, might even use some scary words like ‘bone-on-bone’, and then jumps straight to the surgery route. Without any discussion of other factors you should consider. Here is one thing I know for sure:
Your decision for knee replacement surgery SHOULD NOT be made on pain and imaging alone.
Surgery is an ‘all-in’ approach. It’s never as easy as they may make it seem. To replace a joint they have to cut through muscle, fascia, and nerves which can lead to a whole host of issues. There is a long recovery that requires consistent work after the procedure to get range of motion and strength back.
Before deciding to go under the knife it’s important to consider ALL the factors that go into such a life changing decision. Which is what we cover here:
What To Consider When You're Considering Knee Replacement Surgery
How Well Are You Able To Function?
How much is your knee pain getting in the way of how your able to perform your daily activities? Are you still able to do everything you want to do? How big of an impact is your knee pain and arthritis having on your lifestyle? Many people are recommended surgery based on X-Ray findings alone – even if the pain isn’t very limiting in their real life.
What Are Your Goals For Knee Surgery?
What do you need your body to do to live a happy life? Will surgery get you closer to that goal? Can that goal be accomplished without surgery? The answer may be different for someone who wants to keep climbing mountains vs. someone who simply wants to keep with their walking routine.
Will Surgery Fix The Issue?
Pain relief is the most common expectation for those undergoing knee replacement surgery. A lot of people opt for surgery because they’re promised it will be a ‘quick fix’ to their pain. Simply lie on the table and when you wake up, all your knee problems will be gone. That’s not always the case. One recent study found that up to 20% of people who underwent total knee replacement still struggle with chronic knee pain.
Are There Other Ways To Fix The Issue?
Surgery should really be a last resort. And the truth is, most knee pain can be fixed WITHOUT surgery. Finding ways to limit the impact that goes through your knee can fix the issue in most people. which can be accomplished through movement and strength training. I’m not talking a few weeks of cookie cutter physical therapy, but a well structured strength training program to support your lifestyle. It can take time and effort, but if you’re committed to staying off the surgery table it is worth it.
What Are The TOTAL Costs?
Surgery itself can be expensive…but there are also a lot of hidden costs many people don’t consider. Physical therapy appointments for months after your surgery. Missed days of work as you recover. Are you considering all the costs that go into getting surgery?
Do You Trust Your Doctor?
Just like any profession, not all doctors operate with the patient’s best interest in mind. What is your relationship like with the doctor recommending surgery? Do you feel pressured into having surgery? Are they dismissive? Are they providing info to help you make the best decision for yourself? Are they answering your questions? Providing alternatives? Trust can be hard to gauge. My best advice is that if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Looking for an alternative to knee replacement surgery? Have you looked into strength training? We discuss in the following article.
The Best Alternative To Knee Replacement Surgery