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At What Point Does Joint Replacement Make Sense?

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

Hip replacements and knee replacements are some of the most common surgical procedures done in the United States. They’ve been successfully performed in tens of millions of patients over the decades. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates more than 300,000 hip replacement surgeries are done in the U.S. every year, while there are over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries per year. Both of these procedures, though they have evolved in dramatic ways over the decades, date back to the 1960s.

In short, joint replacement surgery is safe, effective, and proven to be successful.

Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier for you to make the decision about your hip or knee. After all, statistics are just statistics. Let’s talk about your unique situation…

How Do You Know When It’s Time for Joint Replacement Surgery?

Ultimately, the decision to undergo joint replacement surgery is one that will have to be made by you. Your primary care physician and an orthopedic surgeon may be able to help you make that decision by evaluating your joint, recording your symptoms, and providing you with all the information they can so you are able to make an informed decision. Ultimately, though, the choice is yours.

While some people jump straight from their initial joint pain consult to surgery, it’s more typical for patients and providers to address the problem through more conservative therapies. These may include:

  • The use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can be very helpful for managing pain and inflammation. While taking a couple ibuprofen per day by mouth may work for some individuals, other patients find a skin application more beneficial.
  • Weight loss, exercise and physical therapy can also be immensely helpful in resolving joint pain. Several studies have found that losing just a few pounds (not talking radical diet and weight loss here) can result in an improvement of knee pain symptoms.
  • Steroid injections are another option that many patients try before pursuing joint replacement therapy. These injections contain a mixture of anesthetic (for the immediate, injection-related pain) and corticosteroids (a hormone that may help with pain for several months or more). While useful for a period, steroid injections are not an option for long-term use because of the damage they can cause to the joint.

The Only Way to Know What’s Right for You…

…is to get an evaluation. Talking to an orthopedic doctor near you is the best way to learn more about your condition, the degree of joint degeneration you’re living with, and the various options that may be available to you.

Schedule With a Houston Joint Replacement Doctor

For more information about joint replacement surgery – including hip and knee surgery –schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546, or schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.