This month’s blog is written by Dr. David Ibrahim. Dr. Ibrahim is total joint orthopedic physician at the Polyclinic. This month he covers the topic of “How do you know if you are ready for total joint replacement”.
A common question that I often get from patients is, “How do I know if I am ready for a knee or hip replacement?” The answer to that question really depends on 2 key factors: first, the severity of your knee or hip pain and second, the severity of your arthritis on x-rays.
The first point is why you play a key role in the decision regarding joint replacement. When you see your surgeon, you will discuss how limited you are in performing daily activities because of your joint pain. Through various conservative treatment options, an attempt would first be made to manage your pain so that you can get back to daily activities without significant limitations by your joint pain. These conservative treatment options can include anti-inflammatories (ie. Advil or Aleve), pain medication such as Tylenol, a home exercise program that involves low impact exercises, weight management, physical therapy, bracing and joint injections. Usually those treatment options can help to prolong the time until joint replacement. How long those treatment options are helpful usually depends on the severity of
your arthritis. In general, patients who have more advanced arthritis may not find as much or as long of relief from conservative treatment. Joint replacement is ultimately done when conservative treatment no longer provides sustained relief to your pain and your daily activities continue to be limited because of your arthritis-related pain.
Joint replacement is usually not the first option we consider when treating arthritis because we like to give conservative treatment a reasonable attempt before surgery. Additionally, we ideally like to see severe arthritis, or “bone on bone” arthritis, before considering joint replacement. In some circumstances, we do not always get to the point of “bone on bone” arthritis before having to consider surgery. In those cases, patients are significantly limited in their daily activities by severe pain and they may have exhausted all reasonable attempts at conservative treatment. Joint replacement may be the only realistic option left to address pain and improve function.
Another important consideration when thinking about joint replacement is the importance of being mentally and physically prepared before deciding on surgery. Studies have shown us that patients who are mentally prepared and physically conditioned for surgery tend do better after surgery. Think of this like training for a marathon, where time and preparation put in beforehand can help ensure better results when it is time for the actual race.
It is never too early to speak to a joint replacement specialist regarding your knee or hip pain. Your surgeon will help coach you along this journey and help determine when joint replacement may be right for you.
For more information about Dr. David Ibrahim please click the link below to be taken to his webpage.