Deep down, you may know you need knee replacement surgery, but have been (sub)consciously putting it off. For some, it’s a fear of surgery. Others just don’t like the thought of losing a body part. Heck, I put it off for a good year waiting for THE perfect knee implant. Whatever the reason, there comes a point where you need to sit down and seriously weigh the pros and cons. It may in fact NOT be the best time to get surgery, but just make sure you come to terms with all the key factors. In this article, we’ll bring up some of those common discussion points – hopefully, a couple resonate and help you come to a sound decision.
Knee injuries rarely improve on their own
When your knees have deteriorated to the point of needing replacement, all the glucosamine and chondroitin in the world isn’t going to substantially improve your condition. Sure, your symptoms may decrease for a while and your body may actually “heal” itself for a few days, but the underlying arthritic and anatomical conditions rarely permanently improve. If you need to buy yourself a year or two, supplementation may be the way to go but at the end of the day, only knee replacement is capable of giving you that full-fledged freedom and mobility.
There’s Never a Perfect Technology
As mentioned earlier, I got heavily involved in the technology surrounding knee implants for a good year before my procedure. I researched different manufacturers, materials, sizes, methods, etc…almost to a fault. Now, it’s generally a great (and highly recommended) thing to do your homework and discuss that info with your doctor, but don’t go overboard. If you’re ready for surgery, it shouldn’t take you any more than a few solid weeks to go over ALL the implant options and settle on a combination with your MD. Some prefer to let their doctor make all the implant decisions and that’s perfectly OK as well.
Back to the engineering itself, as a general rule, knee implant technology changes multiple times a year, but the tweaks are typically incremental at best. Manufacturers use any excuse to come up with a new model, all for the sake of lining their pockets. Implants rarely improve much from year to year, the biggest gains come in 5 to 10 year blocks. So, if you’re holding off surgery in hopes of the next big, game-changing implant, you’ll probably be left disappointed.
Pre-surgery can be an Emotional Rollercoaster
The days, months and even years before your surgery can be a very trying time. For the most part, folks look forward to their improved lifestyle after surgery, but it’s human nature to let the concern creep in. Day of, will everything go smoothly? Will I be able to get past rehab OK? Sometimes, those thoughts can (sub) consciously cause you to postpone your surgery, and for some indefinitely. The bottom line, though, is knee surgery is one of the more well-understood and successfully-completed procedures in the medical field. Its success rate is extremely high and level of risk VERY low. When you weigh all the factors (including the positive impact to your day-to-day life), there aren’t many surgeries that match its benefit/risk ratio.
Sure, surgery is never fun, but the longer you wait, the more stress and concern that builds up. If you’ve been cleared by your doctor for knee replacement surgery and everything else in your life points to it as being the right decision, do your homework, set a plan and go for it. During my therapy sessions with patients, the single biggest complaint I get is, “Gee, why didn’t I get it done earlier?” Make knee surgery prep and research a priority in your life and, believe me, it’ll pay off in spades for years and years to come.