The average lifespan of North Americans has increased steadily (with a few minor dips) over the last century. Considering individuals are living longer, doctors are now faced with treating a host of new issues that were previously not common, one of which is a joint replacement, as various joints can wear out before the individual dies due to the longer average lifespan. Of all the joints that can be replaced, the knee is the most common subject of total replacement. Before an individual gets a total knee replacement, however, there are several factors they must consider to determine if it is the right choice for them. Get to know some of these factors now.
Lifestyle Changes May Relieve Knee Issues
Many individuals needlessly believe they require a knee replacement when they are dealing with knee pain, when their knee pain or other knee issue could be resolved through other means. Certain lifestyle changes can relieve chronic knee pain and arthritis without the need for costly and risky total replacements. Losing weight, increasing the frequency of physical activity, or even getting a pair of orthotic shoe inserts can sometimes relieve the pain and discomfort individuals experience in their knees. While total knee replacements can also resolve these issues, they should be a last resort rather than the first option.
There Are Risks Associated With Any Surgery
Anesthesia is always a risky endeavor, particularly for older individuals who are the ones often in need of a joint replacement. As safe as modern hospitals have become, any surgery comes with a long list of associated risks. Some of the risks associated with knee replacements, including before and after the surgery itself, are blood clots around the knee or in the leg, infection at the incision site, pulmonary embolism (where a blood clot travels to the lungs), as well as nerve or tissue damage. Additionally, there will be pain during the recovery process. Thus, individuals should consult with their doctor and surgeon when determining if they are comfortable with the risks of a knee replacement surgery and if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Knee Replacements Can Cause Complications
Aside from the general risks and complications that accompany any kind of surgery, knee replacement surgeries come with their own specific set of issues, which can often present themselves after a knee is replaced (even years down the line). Knee prostheses can become loose or infected in the weeks following the surgery, which can lead to secondary surgical procedures. Some patients report even report leg length discrepancies following total knee replacements, a condition that can cause back or hip pain, uneven wear on shoes, and other complications.
Choosing The Right Surgeon Is Important
Today's surgeons might have access to the same medical literature and research, but that does not mean they all approach total knee replacement surgeries with the same techniques and perspectives. Before undergoing total knee replacement surgery, individuals should consult with multiple surgeons to try and find the best fit for their view on knee replacement surgery and who they feel is the best equipped for their case. Like any service today, surgeons often have online ratings and reviews left by former patients that can help individuals determine which surgeon is right for them.
Knee Prostheses Come In Many Forms
Medical technology represents some of the most cutting-edge engineering on the consumer market. Today's knee prostheses are made from a wide variety of different materials, each suited for different patients' individual needs. Some knee prostheses are better suited for active individuals due to their need for mobility as well as durability, while others are made specifically for individuals with certain allergies or other medical conditions, which can affect how the body responds to the new artificial joint. Individuals considering getting a knee replacement should read as much of the available medical and consumer data on various knee replacement technologies as possible before undergoing a total knee replacement.