The most common reason for having hip and knee surgery is osteoarthritis – a disease that breaks down the cartilage in your joints. But surgery is not the only treatment option for osteoarthritis. People at different stages of osteoarthritis disease need different treatment.
People in the early stage of osteoarthritis usually do not need surgery. Their treatment may be as simple as using a walking aid, such as a cane, to help keep them mobile and reduce stress on your joint. But if the joint is badly damaged because of advanced or end stage osteoarthritis (or other problems) replacement surgery may be recommended.
Your surgeon will tell you why you need joint replacement surgery. It may be to:
- Lessen your pain and improve your quality of life
- Improve your ability to do more activities and live a fuller, active life
- Make your hip or knee joint more stable
If you think you need knee or hip replacement surgery, ask yourself the following questions to decide if surgery is something you should consider:
- Is pain keeping you from sleeping?
- Is pain keeping you from enjoying your daily activities?
- Are you no longer able to control your pain with medications or other methods, like applying heat or ice?
- Have all the non-surgical treatment methods been tried?
- Is your movement restricted to the point that you now have trouble getting out of a chair, climbing stairs, or getting up off the floor?
- Are you committed and prepared to work towards your recovery?
- Will you follow your health care team’s advice about taking care of your new joints and giving yourself time to recover?
Joint replacement surgery is widely used as a safe way to treat osteoarthritis and other health conditions. But there are risks involved with any surgery. Talk to your specialist to find out which treatment option is right for you. Ask about the benefits and risks that come with having surgery, and the steps and precautions you can take to reduce your individual risk.
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