It might go without saying, but for anyone who suffers from chronic knee pain - from the result of arthritis, torn or missing cartilage, injury, or what have you - a total knee replacement should probably be considered as a final resort.
The main reason: Anything manmade will not last forever, and would have to be replaced at some point. (Plus, there's always a chance it could get infected, in which case, more radical steps may be required).
Depending on how well it is taken care of (i.e., how strenuous your activity level is) a replacement knee could last as long as 20 years. According to a recent post on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, one study found about 14.9 percent of men and 17.4 percent of women who receive a total knee replacement will need another.
That’s why Dr. Harpal Khanuja, chief of hip and knee replacement surgery with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins, says knee replacement should only be considered as a last resort. Other steps to take would include following your doctor’s recommendations for losing weight, physical therapy, pain management, and modifying activities.
“I tell people it’s time for a replacement when they can’t live the life they want to live; it is not a good solution for an occasional pain."
Here, then, are some tips from Johns Hopkins on maintaining good knee health:
♦ Hit a healthy weight: added weight places more pressure on the knees and also I can lead to an increase in inflammation, which can contribute to disease progression. Kanuja says every 10-pound loss relieves 30 pounds of force on your knee per step.
♦ Get the right kind of exercise: moderate physical activity won’t increase your risk of osteoarthritis and will also help maintain a healthy weight, which can actually reduce the risk. Good low-impact knee activity includes swimming, walking, or using an elliptical machine.
♦ Ditch high-heeled shoes: a recent study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology, found that wearing flat, flexible shoes significantly reduced pressure on knees and helped people with osteoarthritis walk better.
You can read the full post at the Johns Hopkins website.