If you are reading this article, you or someone you love may be considering a hip or knee replacement.
We know it can be a frustrating and nerve wracking time.
- How do you make the right decision?
- How do you know if it is the right time?
- What is the experience like and how long until I’m able to get back into activity?
All valid questions and worth considering.
According to the Australian Orthopaedic Association, there were 57,860 knee replacements in 2015. That’s a lot! Whilst this is a widely used surgery there are still other options to consider before going under the knife. Having watched multiple knee and hip replacement surgeries, I know they are a big operation!
To help with making this tough decision, we’ve put together a list of questions to help you make an informed choice. Check them out below!
What do your family, friends and healthcare team think?
Close family and friends often know you best, so it’s important to sit down with those you love and involve them in the decision making process. These people will also be the ones hopefully helping and supporting you through the surgery and the recovery on the other side.
It’s also important that you involve all your relevant healthcare professionals in your decision-making. This will include (but is not limited to) your General Practitioner, Rheumatologist, Orthopaedic surgeon, Physiotherapist and any other health professionals you are regularly seeing. They can work together to make sure you make best decision possible.
Have you exhausted all other avenues?
Depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis, there are other options you can trial first. Physiotherapy and an appropriate exercise program is a great place to start, Initially, there may be a focus on regaining movement and flexibility in your affected joints. As you progress, you will notice changes in your strength and ultimately function- allowing you to do things that you may have been too hard or painful previously. Strengthening the muscles around your joints will also put you in a good position should you need to have surgery later down the track (more on this in a future post).
Achieving and maintaining an appropriate body weight has also shown to a highly effective strategy in managing osteoarthritis. There may also be braces and supports available which can help to reduce your pain and allow you to do that little bit more. Doctors may also discuss different medication options or even injections, which may provide enough relief for you to continue without the need for surgery. Click here to download our Osteoarthritis treatment checklist which goes thorugh some of these options in more detail.
Is your joint pain significantly affecting your day-to-day function?
Those who get the most improvement after a joint replacement surgery are often those who have found that the joint is really influencing their day-to-day life. It is not simply enough to have been told that you have osteoarthritis on scan results or a bit of niggling pain here and there.
When you are unable to do the basic daily activities that you need to do it may be time to consider a joint replacement. This may include going down the stairs inside your house, getting up off a chair or walking around to do the groceries.
Are you prepared for the long rehabilitation process post operation?
The process after the operation involves intensive recovery and may involve a stint in a rehabilitation hospital before being discharged to continue with outpatient or home physiotherapy. This will usually mean a period of immobility where you can’t work or do your normal daily activities. Consider if this will place too much stress on your lifestyle and family situation to make sure you pick an ideal time.
The recovery process also involves a whole lot of exercises pushing through the pain and really straining the muscles to rebuild them stronger than they were before. You will need to be committed and disciplined to get back on your feet!
So there we go!
Whilst this list of questions certainly doesn't replace a full medical assessment and discussion, it will hopefully give you an idea of the right questions to ask if you happen to be considering a knee or hip replacement. We’re confident that if you can answer all of the questions above, you will be able to make a well informed decision about whether a joint replacement is the best option for you.
What do you think? Are there any other questions we could help you answer?