Causes and Symptoms
The knee joint is one of the most important in the body, and when it begins to fail the consequences on the quality of life of the patient can be dramatic. Walking may be painful or altogether impossible, and the patient may have to use a walker or even wheelchair to get around. Even in cases that are not that severe, a compromised knee joint can make standing or walking for long periods of time too painful to deal with on a regular basis. In order to regain mobility and comfort, many individuals have chosen to undergo a knee replacement procedure to substitute and artificial joint for the natural motion of the body.
The purpose of a knee replacement is to use metal and plastic materials that will mimic the proper function of a knee joint and allow it to hinge pain free as it once did. A variety of causes can lead a patient to consider knee replacement as a viable treatment option. The most common reasons that a knee replacement needs to be done is advanced osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. In these cases, pain is almost always present when walking or climbing stairs, and patients might even be in pain while the joint is at rest. Other cases of traumatic injury to the knee could result in knee replacement if the joint is too severely damaged to heal properly.
Knee pain is the main signal that a knee replacement operation may be in order. However, simply achy knees that don’t inhibit your daily function should not be cause for a total knee replacement. Undergoing this procedure is a major operation that will require extensive time to rehabilitate and should be done lightly. Only when the pain of using the knee becomes too much to bear and it is inhibiting your normal daily activities should knee replacement be strongly considered.
Before undergoing knee replacement, patients should try less invasive solutions such as physical therapy. A good physical therapist will be able to identify the causes of pain within the knee and recommend a series of exercises and stretches that can help alleviate the pain. While this course of action may or may not be successful is removing the pain, it is worth trying before committing to the total knee replacement procedure.
Should you go on ahead with the knee replacement, physical therapy will still play a large role in your recovery and rehabilitation. The physical therapist that you work with following your operation will help you to learn how to use your new joint and how to exercise your body as a whole to stay healthy in the long term. Sticking with the program that is assigned to you by the therapist is the best way to ensure that you get good results from your procedure and that the maximum possible motion and strength is restored to the knee. Having a joint replaced is never an easy process, but the end result can mean getting many aspects of your life back when you can walk and stand pain free for the first time in years.