When Do You Need Knee Surgery?

Feb 9, 2023

About The Knee

The knee is a complex joint that joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The fibula (the other bone in the lower leg) and the patella (knee cap) are the other bones that comprise the knee joint.

In addition to being complex, the joint is the largest in the body. It’s supported by ligaments that stabilize the knee and join the bones and tendons that connect muscles to bones. The knee is a modified hinge joint with a wide range of motion, primarily flexion, and extension. It’s essential to carry the body’s weight when walking, running, and jumping.

The patella is the most prominent sesamoid bone in the body, meaning that at birth, it’s just cartilage — between the ages of three and five, it becomes bone in a process called ossification. Because the knee is so complex, there are many injuries common to the joint. Injuries can occur over time or can occur during sports or other activities.

4 Signs You Could Need A Knee Replacement

1- Your knee pain is getting more intense and frequent

We all feel an occasional twinge in our knees after a long car ride or a long day on our feet. While annoying, this is normal – and these aches are usually gone almost as quickly as they appeared. But feeling recurring knee pain or intense knee pain isn’t normal.

Pain feels a little different for everyone, but there are some common types of pain we tell our patients to pay attention to, including:

  • Knee pain that lasts for more than a couple of weeks
  • Knee pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Knee aches during and after exercise
  • Knee pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Knee pain that gets worse in humid or cold weather

This nagging and disruptive knee pain can signify that joint wear and tear is getting worse. And the more worn out your joint becomes, the more complicated knee replacement surgery and recovery can be. So if your knee pain is getting worse over time or becoming more frequent, don’t ignore it.

2 – Your mobility has become increasingly limited

It’s normal to lose some joint flexibility as you get older. But persistent knee stiffness that affects your mobility can be a sign of a more complicated knee concern.

What do you need to be on the lookout for? These are the most common mobility issues we see in our patients when we begin discussing knee replacement surgery:

  • Knee stiffness that becomes worse after sitting for an extended period, like on a long car ride or during a movie
  • Knee stiffness that requires the use of a cane or other mobility device
  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs, standing up from chairs, or climbing out of the bathtub
  • Morning knee stiffness that lasts for up to 30 minutes

Suppose you lose mobility, and inactivity increases. If you lose strength and function, you likely won’t get the maximum results from a knee replacement.

3 – You notice swelling in your knee

Cartilage helps protect your knee from pressure and friction caused by walking and moving. However, knee conditions, including osteoarthritis, can cause the cartilage around your knee to wear out. Arthritis is painful and leads to inflammation. And when knees become inflamed, they can swell.

So, if you’re experiencing consistent or recurring knee swelling – don’t let it go. For starters, you’re likely experiencing increasing pain or mobility issues. Constant or frequent knee swelling can signify cartilage damage, leading to more wear and tear.

4 – It’s becoming more challenging to do everyday activities

Putting off a trip to the store until tomorrow because you’re still achy from your workout is normal. But it’s not normal to struggle with daily activities because of persistent knee pain.

What do we mean by daily activities? For starters, if you’re finding it increasingly difficult to sit down, stand up or climb stairs without pain, stiffness, or assistance, take note.

If you’re also having difficulty with activities like grocery shopping or getting dressed – or you’re starting to avoid them altogether – because your pain and lack of mobility has increased significantly, don’t delay getting the care you need.

Have Knee Pain? Make An Appointment At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates 

Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates is one of the region’s leading orthopedic practices. We take pride in the education and experience that each of our doctors holds.

From your initial appointment to the conclusion of your treatment, we strive to keep you informed and active in the decision-making process. It’s always our policy to be conservative with our course of treatment, only recommending surgery if it is genuinely needed.

We also seek to be minimally invasive in our treatments, reducing the time a patient is in the hospital. With many of our surgical treatments, patients are home the same day of surgery.

If you have a knee injury or concern, get in touch — we’ll schedule an appointment and create a plan to get you back to your normal activities.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.