Is It Time For Orthopedic Surgery On Your Knees?

To sit, stand, kneel, or walk, you need your knees to be in good functioning order to support your weight and enable smooth movement. However, age, overuse, and injuries can take a big toll on your knees. They may start to wear out long before you do.

When knee pain flares up and limits your mobility, a conservative approach is always the first route to take. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and steroid injections can often help you find relief for a long time. Once the benefits of those treatments start to wane, however, it may be time to consider orthopedic surgery. Here are some signs that you might be ready:

1. Non-Invasive Treatments Are Not Working

Unless you have an emergent issue related to an obvious injury or a tumor under your knee, you won't be a surgical candidate until you've tried at least a few non-invasive treatments and failed to improve. This might include a period of rest, braces, the use of sports tape, and hydrotherapy. If those don't give you significant relief, then it's usually time to discuss surgical options.

2. You Have Persistent, Debilitating Pain

Chronic pain that's unrelenting despite lifestyle modifications, rest, physical therapy, and medication suggests that your underlying knee problems are severe. When the pain affects your ability to walk, stand, engage in your hobbies, and sleep, that's a signal that you've moved past the point where conservative treatment is useful.

3. You're Experiencing a More Limited Range of Motion

Anything from severe osteoarthritis to a tear in your meniscus can leave you with surprising limitations on your mobility. If you start to have difficulty either bending or fully straightening your knees because they feel like they're "locked" into place, surgical intervention might be your only recourse.

4. You Have Increased Swelling and Inflammation

Frequent swelling under and around your kneecaps is not normal, even if it has started to become "normal for you." Anytime swelling starts to be persistent, it's wise to have a medical evaluation that looks for the underlying causes and potential solutions.

5. You No Longer Feel Stable on Your Feet

If your knees have buckled while you're standing or walking, that's a very serious problem. Falls can lead to everything from broken hips to traumatic brain injuries. Knee instability can often be tied to underlying damage to the bone structure or ligaments, which can be surgically repaired or reconstructed to give you more stability.

If you're starting to have increasing trouble with your knees and the pain and lack of mobility are affecting your quality of life, it may be wisest to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for a consultation. They can help you better understand if you're a good surgical candidate and what benefits that might bring.

For more information, contact an orthopedic surgeon near you.