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How Do You Know When it is Time for a Joint Replacement?

A debilitated hip or knee joint can make life agonizing.

The Decision to Have a Joint Replacement

Well, you have always been active, but lately, you have noticed that things that you could do with great ease have become challenging. A debilitated hip or knee joint can make life agonizing. How do you know when it is time to take the “leap” and have joint replacement surgery?

There are many significant things to consider when making the decision to have a joint replacement. The first and foremost, at its most basic level, is decide how much does it hurt? Is the “hurt” affecting my life? Are there things I want to do that I can’t do? Is the quality of my life being altered by the pain so that I am unhappy?

Severe pain in the knee or hip can make you miserable and strain relationships around you. Before taking the drastic “step” of agreeing to have surgery, take the time to learn more about whether it is time to do it, or, if you can prolong having major surgery.

There are several indicators that it is time to consider having joint replacement, starting with the fact you can no longer complete tasks without assistance. Your pain has gotten to the point that even when you are taking pains killers, the pain is keeping you awake or is waking you up more than once per night. The pain is stopping you from being able to walk or bend down. The pain and swelling is not being alleviated by resting. You are not able to take medications, or they are creating severe side effects. You feel the disease is draining you physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

The most obvious reasons to consider surgery is if you have had X-rays and MRI’s and they show there is significant damage to the joint and shows there is bone on bone. Usually, by this point, you will be seeing an orthopedic surgeon, and they will give you options to consider before having surgery.

Have You Tried Less Invasive Treatments?

Exercise helps to strengthen the weak muscles that surround arthritic joints and can improve the ability to manage the pain and dysfunction. Exercise can increase the range of motion surrounding the joint and rebalance muscles that may be causing undue stress on the connective tissue. Exercise also creates stability in the core which will make falls and injuries less likely to happen.

Cortisone injections can offer quick relief of inflamed muscles, joints, tendons, and bursa. When you have joint pain from arthritis, a specialist will inject the medication directly into the joint which helps to relieve the pain for short periods. These injections generally only work when it is mild to moderate arthritis, and you need to repeat them every few months.

Prescription and non-prescription anti-inflammatory such as naproxen and ibuprofen are quite effective for mild to moderate arthritis pain. Some people prefer analgesics such as acetaminophen as anti-inflammatory pills can irritate the stomach lining significantly. Discuss prescription medications with stomach buffers or proton pump inhibitors if you are experiencing problems.

There are several complementary therapies that you can try such as Acupuncture, Prolotherapy, IMS and Neural therapy that can also help significantly with the pain and tightness you get around the joints. Make sure you find a Naturopath or physical therapist that has plenty of experience with these therapies. Ask around and pick a therapist or doctor that has plenty of five-star reviews.

What if I Want to Wait Longer for My Joint Replacement?

The problem with waiting longer is many people find that eventually, the joints start to lock and buckle which creates more issues with falling. As the stiffness worsens, it makes surgery harder which will make the recovery a longer process. In severe cases, when waiting too long, you may not get the full benefit of the replacement.

Finding the Right Surgeon

Finding the right surgeon makes a big difference to surgical success for a new joint. It is important to thoroughly check out the surgeon and surgery before you choose to do a joint replacement.

Find out how long they have been a surgeon. How often they perform the surgery and how many they have done.  Ask what kind of results to expect and discuss common complications.  Request a referral to a physiotherapist that has experience with joint replacement and plan to see them before and after the surgery.

Finding a rehabilitation specialist to work in conjunction with your physiotherapist will also help to guarantee success. You will need to work out for a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes several times a week to ensure joint stability before the surgery. Exercise before surgery will make the joint more stable which means after the operation the joint will be less painful, and mobility happens quicker.

How Long Will My New Joint Last?

There have been a lot of advancements science and as such studies show that for nine out of ten people the joint is still functioning well after twenty years. The replacement will last longer with less wear and tear. Use common sense after the surgery and hire a rehabilitation specialist that can monitor your activity levels and ensure joint stability.

Making the decision to have a joint replacement done is never easy but in the end it will be rewarding. Once your recovery period is over you will be able to return to most of your prior activities from before the arthritis changed your life!

Hiring a certified Personal Trainer through Infofit is one of the best investments you can make with regard to your overall health and fitness. If you are serious about a future, fuelled by healthy eating, increased activity and infinite possibilities then start with your very own Infofit life coach and personal trainer.

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA\SFL, Rehabilitation Specialist