Are you suffering from knee pain? More than 660,000 Americans undergo knee replacement annually to help ease the pain caused by damaged joints that no longer work as they should.
“While injury or other conditions may damage the knee joint, the most common condition affecting the knee is osteoarthritis caused by cartilage breakdown, bone changes and diminished joint fluid. There are several options that are available to relieve knee pain, such as over-the counter drugs, injections and physical therapy, but there comes a time when the joint is so damaged that knee replacement is your best option to improve quality of life,” said Dr. J. Fredrick Wade, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center.
J. Fredrick Wade, M.D.
is an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center. He is associated with Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic in Columbia, Tennessee. Dr. Wade specializes in hip and knee replacements and surgical treatments of herniated discs in the neck and back.
According to Dr. Wade, there are three key signs that it’s time to consider knee replacement:
- Pain interferes with daily activities
If knee pain results in difficulty sleeping or performing daily activities such as climbing stairs, driving, gardening or playing with grandchildren, it is time to evaluate your options. This decreased activity may also result in weight gain, placing even more stress on the knee.
- Medication no longer relieves the pain
Most patients begin taking over-the-counter medications and progress to prescription medication. Over-the-counter options include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and aspirin. Prescription medications include Celebrex and Voltaren. It is important to take these medications as indicated or prescribed and talk to your physician if they no longer relieve your knee pain.
- Stability and balance is affected
As the anatomy of the knee deteriorates, often resulting in bone-on-bone wear, the knee becomes less stable. While wearing a brace may temporarily help, this instability can cause damage to the ligaments and tendons supporting the joint. In addition, this instability results in an increased risk for falling injuries and alters one’s natural gait, which can result in stress to other joints or the spine.
“If you are experiencing these three signs, it’s time to talk to an orthopedic surgeon about knee replacement. Our goal is to help you regain quality of life with improved mobility. For the best outcome, be diligent about physical therapy. I encourage my patients to begin exercises to build the leg muscles prior to surgery and be committed to post-surgery physical therapy to achieve the best results,” said Dr. Wade.