Skip to Content

7 signs it's time for knee or hip replacement surgery

Is your knee or hip pain impossible to ignore? Here's how to determine when it might be time to consider knee or hip replacement surgery.

July 06, 2020
decorative
Is your knee or hip pain impossible to ignore? Here's how to determine when it might be time to consider knee or hip replacement surgery.

It's estimated that 54 million adults in the United States are living with arthritis, a group of diseases that affect the joints, causing symptoms like joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition in which the cartilage between your joints breaks down. For some, the condition is manageable with so–called conservative treatments. These may include lifestyle modifications — such as exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight — as well as medications and physical therapy. For others, symptoms may worsen over time and affect your ability to perform daily activities.

If conservative treatments have proven unhelpful and you continue to experience pain, stiffness and disability, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery — especially if your knees or hips are affected, as they're the most common type of joint replacement.

If you or a loved one is in pain, don't delay this discussion with your doctor. We understand it can be confusing to seek healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic and want to reassure you that we have implemented enhanced protections to keep you safe from the moment you step into our facilities. Prioritizing your health is important and should never be put on hold.

Who typically receives joint replacement surgery?

While more than 95% of total knee replacements are done for people who have osteoarthritis, the procedures may benefit people with other conditions, as well. Those who experience post–traumatic arthritis — such as from a sports–related or accident–related injury to the knee — or knee damage resulting from an infection, a bone tumor or a change in blood supply that results in bone damage may also be candidates for knee replacement surgery.

Although osteoarthritis is also a common reason for hip replacement surgery, people who have any condition that deteriorates the ball–and–socket structure of the hip — such as developmental abnormalities, childhood hip disorders, trauma, tumors or tissue death — may also consider hip replacement surgery as an option to repair the joint.

Those who have inflammatory types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, gout or psoriatic arthritis may also consider knee or hip replacement surgery.

Deciding whether or not to go through with joint replacement surgery is a big decision, of course, so it's important to weigh the risks and benefits. Here's what you should know.

Signs to look out for

There are a few telltale signs that it may be time to consider hip or knee replacement surgery.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, you may be a good candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery if:

  • You're unable to perform daily activities due to pain
  • You experience pain or stiffness even when lying down or at rest
  • You're in pain despite taking medications or receiving injections
  • You find that supportive devices, like walkers and canes, do not provide relief
  • You did not experience improvement with physical therapy
  • You have significant inflammation, swelling or joint deformity

Another sign it may be time for a joint replacement: You're finding workarounds for how to accomplish certain tasks.

Are you a candidate for surgery?

Recommendations for surgery are individualized, based on your personal level of pain and disability and an assessment from your doctor.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, people who have osteoarthritis may first try a number of non–surgical methods to reduce pain and improve mobility, including:

  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Strengthening muscles to help support the joint
  • Stretching the joints to reduce stiffness and pain
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Balancing activity and rest
  • Avoiding excessive, repetitive movements
  • Using hot and cold therapy
  • Employing assistive devices — including mobility aids like canes and walkers, bathing and toileting aids like grab bars and shower benches and devices you wear on your body, such as orthotics and braces
  • Taking over–the-counter or prescription medications for pain
  • Managing pain with injections
  • Doing physical or occupational therapy
  • Trying cognitive behavioral therapy (a form of talk therapy), to help cope with the psychological effects of chronic pain

It's important to remember that, as a degenerative condition, osteoarthritis worsens over time. That means that while medications can help reduce symptoms like joint pain and inflammation, they don't do anything to fix the condition itself.

Considering joint replacement surgery: next steps

When non–invasive ways to manage symptoms are no longer working and your quality of life is adversely impacted, it may be time to consider a knee or hip replacement.

Your decision–making process should begin with conversations with your family and your primary care doctor. Then, once you're ready to explore your surgical options, your doctor should refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, the type of specialist who performs the procedure, who can give you more information about what the procedure entails as well as the potential risks and benefits.

Choosing your surgeon

It's essential to be as selective as you can when it comes to finding a good surgeon. Think through your decision and review how often the surgeon performs these procedures. It's a big procedure, so it's important to consider everything from the hospital, the surgeon, and even getting the surgery at all.

Managing expectations

It's also important to have realistic expectations of what your surgery will accomplish.

On the plus side, most patients with knee or hip replacement surgery do experience reduced pain and improved function and quality of life. But neither knee nor hip replacements are fool–proof.

Like your own joints, the artificial joints you'll receive are subject to wear and tear. And although most patients are able to get back to their normal daily activities, you'll probably be limited in your ability to do more intense forms of exercise. In other words, you'll likely have to forgo running, jogging or jumping with your new joint in favor of lower–impact activities like walking, swimming and biking.

Published:
July 06, 2020
Location:
HCA Florida Healthcare

Related Blog Posts

Is arthritis preventable? Tips for keeping your joints healthy 

May 02, 2022
Is arthritis preventable? Tips for maintaining healthy joints: As we age, many people begin to experience arthritis in their joints.

Is arthritis preventable? Tips for keeping your joints healthy 

May 02, 2022
Is arthritis preventable? Tips for maintaining healthy joints: As we age, many people begin to experience arthritis in their joints.

Joint replacement surgery: your questions answered 

December 27, 2021
If someone is having consistent joint pain, they may be considering joint replacement in the hopes that their pain will be alleviated and are sure to have many questions about the process.

Don't shrug off shoulder pain 

December 21, 2020
Achy shoulders? Find out what causes shoulder pain, how it is treated and why you should never ignore pain in your shoulders.