When is it time for knee replacement surgery?

After nearly a decade of Orthopaedic practice devoted to Joint Replacements, one of the most frequent questions I am asked by patients is “How will I know when it’s time for knee replacement surgery?”  Truthfully, my response is simply, “You will know when it’s time.”
Let me explain….

Arthritis of the knee, especially osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear arthritis”, is extremely prevalent.   In fact, as we age, all of us will wear out the cartilage in our knees to some degree.  Fortunately for most, occasional knee aches and pains don’t really limit us in any significant way.  However the number of people who are afflicted with more debilitating knee arthritis continues to grow.  There are several reasons for this:  Our aging population, our increased demand for physical activity, previous knee surgery and obesity are just some of the factors linked to this rise in knee arthritis.  Thus, it has been estimated that by the year 2030, there may be over 3 million first-time knee replacements performed in the United States alone.  That’s a lot of achy knees.

When might it be time for you?  I think consideration of three simple questions will help ease the stress of this understandably difficult decision to proceed with knee replacement surgery.

1. Have you tried all other non-operative measures to lessen knee pain?

Have you already tried treatments such as physical therapy and exercise, weight loss, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, use of a cane or walker, and knee injections?

2.  Do you avoid doing things that you need to do, or enjoy doing, because of your knee pain?

Standing, walking, and even sitting for longer periods of time often become increasingly challenging as knee arthritis advances.  While limiting the amount of time spent doing these activities may help lessen the discomfort, sometimes it’s just not practical.  Work demands and daily life demands often involve those very types of activity that cause knee pain.

3.  Are you sick of it all?

The limitations imposed by knee arthritis often develop slowly. However, for most patients, there will come a time when discomfort and pain, trouble sleeping, stiffness, swelling, difficulty with stairs and walking, and the increasing need for medications, injections and rest become a real burden.  Are you tired of knee pain interfering with what you can do?

In my experience, when a patient can honestly answer “YES” to all three questions, it’s time for knee replacement.  It’s never convenient to have any surgical procedure, but knee replacement surgery can be scheduled and planned for at a time that is right.

In the right patients knee replacement surgery can help restore a quality of life that many patients thought was long since gone.  Without a doubt, the most frequent comment I hear when patients have recovered from surgery is, “I should have done this a long time ago.”

Gregory E. Raab, MD
Joint Replacement Specialist
Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center

If you are wondering if the time is right for you or a loved one for knee replacement please call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gregg Raab at Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center- 615-324-1600.

Play Ball! – Back to the Game He Loves After Hip Labral Repair.

Aaron Brill age 24 grew up in South Florida and has played baseball since he was a very young child.  He played baseball in college and now plays short stop and second base in Canada for the Canadian American League (the Can Am League). But Aaron was recently sidelined due to injury and it was the longest time he had been off baseball in his life. Here is his story.

For a few months Aaron began to feel what he describes as “central groin/pelvis pain” which he suspected was a sports hernia. But while stealing second base during a game he slid into the base head first and felt hip pain right away.  Thinking it was just a strain Aaron did not go to the doctor right away. He rested for about 3 weeks, but it was not getting better so he came to Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center to see Dr. Chad Price. MRI showed that he had torn the labrum in his hip. It also showed that he had congenitally –meaning from birth- some extra bone in his hip socket which had started to wear down the labrum in his hip even before the major injury to it while stealing second base. (eliteorthopaedic.com/blog/what-is-a-labral-tear-of-the-hip)

The day before Thanksgiving Aaron had surgery to repair the labrum. Dr. Chad Price also shaved down some of the extra bone in his hip socket during surgery.   A full recovery from this procedure is typically 4 months. Aaron has the personality of someone who will push himself and try to beat the 4 month recovery time, but with a hip labral repair this is not possible. Progressing faster than the post-op protocol schedule with this procedure can actually be detrimental to outcomes.  So Aaron worked as hard as he could during his physical therapy and concentrated on the conditioning that he was allowed to do (some core, some upper body) and has done very well with zero setbacks what so ever.  It has been a long road. “This is the longest I have been off baseball since I was about 3 years old!” Aaron said. “It reminds me how much I love it and why I play- I cannot wait to get back to playing. I am feeling great now and my full release will be just in time for my season to start”

“My care from Dr. Price and everyone at Elite has been top notch,  I am so excited with how well I have done.”

– Aaron Brill