Is a total knee replacement on your radar? If it is, you’re not alone. More than 600,000 Americans opt for the procedure each year. That number makes total knee replacement the most frequently performed orthopedic surgery in the United States.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time for a total knee replacement. An article in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that about 90 percent of people wait longer than necessary to have the surgery. That statistic is no surprise to Francisco Jaume, DO, Orthopedic Surgeon, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group. Dr. Jaume – who has himself undergone total knee replacement surgery – understands why people wrestle with this question.

“People tend to wait longer than they should for a total knee replacement in the hopes they’ll be able to manage their pain,” says Dr. Jaume. “But if an x-ray reveals you have bone-on-bone opposition, the only way to fix this is surgery that resurfaces the knee joint. And that’s exactly what we do during a total knee replacement.”

Five Signs it’s Time for a Total Knee Replacement

  • Medications – even stronger anti-inflammatory drugs – don’t ease your pain.
    Dr. Jaume cautions that even over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – like aspirin and ibuprofen – can be dangerous. These medications can damage your kidneys and liver as well as lead to high blood pressure.
  • Cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy and other less-invasive treatment options aren’t effective in reducing your pain and inflammation.
    Dr. Jaume emphasizes that physical therapy is an essential part of a total knee replacement. He recommends physical therapy before surgery to build overall strength and after to ensure a successful recovery.
  • Everyday tasks – dressing, bathing or getting out of a chair – are painful and challenging.
    Dr. Jaume asks patients if they’re having difficulty performing these and other activities of daily living. A ‘yes’ usually means it’s time for a total knee replacement.
  • Your pain is severe and relentless.
    “If you experience pain even when you’re not using your knee, that’s a strong indication that it’s time for surgery,” Dr. Jaume says. “Total knee replacement can improve the quality of your life.”
  • You need a walker or cane to get around.
    But don’t retire these assistive devices, too soon. You’ll need a walker for two-to-four weeks following total knee replacement surgery and a cane until you can walk without a limp.

“Total knee replacement is life changing. I know from personal experience,” notes Dr. Jaume. “If you follow your post-surgery plan, you can live a pain-free and active life.”

To schedule an appointment with Yavapai Regional Medical Group Orthopedic Surgery call (928) 708-4545 or talk to your primary care provider.