Chronic knee pain can have a big impact on quality of life. When it limits mobility, an individual may not be able to stay as active as they’d like or take part in the things they used to enjoy. This dynamic can also lead to other health issues, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. A common source of this type of pain is osteoarthritis, which can cause deterioration of the knee joint over time.
The good news is that with advances in surgical techniques, knee replacement surgery is less invasive than it used to be, allowing individuals to recover more quickly and effectively. However, recent research indicates that the majority of patients who are eligible for knee replacement surgery are waiting too long to have it.
The importance of timing in knee replacement surgery
In a study by Northwestern University published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers found that although the timing of knee replacement surgery is critical to optimize its benefit, “90% of patients with knee osteoarthritis who would potentially benefit from knee replacement are waiting too long to have it and getting less benefit. In addition, about 25% of patients who don’t need it are having it prematurely when the benefit is minimal.”
He also underscored what can happen as a result: “When people wait too long, two things happen,” Ghomrawi said. “The osteoarthritis causes deterioration of their function. Some of them wouldn’t be able to straighten out their legs, affecting their walking and mobility. When you can’t get exercise, you can start to develop other health problems such as cardiovascular problems. You may also become depressed. The overall impact can be huge.”
He also noted that patients who delay surgery may get less benefit from having it: “You don’t get as much function back when you wait too long; your mobility is still reduced versus somebody who had it in a timely fashion,” Ghomrawi said.
On the flip side, patients who get knee replacement surgery too early (about 25% of those in the study), may not get the full benefit and may require additional surgery down the road.
Advice from a knee-replacement expert is key
Both dynamics underscore the need for evaluation by an expert in the field, like our own Dr. Derick Johnson. “I see many people who have lived with pain and decreased mobility for so long,” Dr. Johnson says. “They come to me looking for relief and a better life. My goal is to help give them that, using whatever treatment will work best for them.”
Dr. Johnson has extensive training and experience in minimally invasive hip and knee replacement surgery, including the anterior approach to hip replacement, partial and custom knee replacements, and complex revision surgery for failed hip and knee replacements. He is also the first Mako® Certified Physician in West Michigan for this advanced robotic-arm assisted partial and complete knee replacement.
Karen is one of Dr. Johnson’s patients who underwent a total knee replacement using the Mako® system. In the following video, she describes the impact of knee pain on her quality of life before surgery—as well as what her surgical experience and post-operative journey have been like.
If you are experiencing knee pain and wonder if you may be a candidate for knee replacement surgery, there’s no need to wait. Our experts can evaluate your situation and discuss available treatment options that will work best for you. Contact us today for an appointment.