One of the most unavoidable facts of life is that your body is wearing out. Day by day, gravity is slowly crushing your cartilage. Sad but true. Factors influencing the rate of this degeneration are obesity, sports injury, surgery, congenital bone problems or genetic cartilage production issues.
On a happier note, you live in an age in which you can simply throw out the old, tired joint and pop a bright, shiny new one in!
This is making light of a very scary and worrying decision for some people, and it IS major surgery – there’s no getting around it.
And so it is that we are constantly asked; how do I know if I need my arthritic joint replaced? Am I just being soft? Should I wait?
The main criteria for making the big decision are these:
- Are you avoiding doing things you like because you know your knee/hip will hurt? (Quality of Life)
- When you stand from sitting, does it take 15-20sec of wriggling around before your joint will take your weight without pain?
- Is your sleep being interrupted more than once a night?
- Are you spending large portions of your day concentrating on the management of your pain (ice, anti-inflammatories, braces, exercises, treatment)
****Update**** New research from Denmark, Canada and now Australia has shown that up to 75% of patients will remove themselves from a surgical wait list (even severely osteoarthritic people waiting for joint replacement) after doing a 12 week program exercise, education about arthritis and pain management, and weight loss. This management plan is being shown to be superior to arthroscopic surgery, and has far fewer serious complications that Total Joint Replacement surgery. Consider asking your physiotherapist about the GLA:D program if you answered yes to two or more of the above questions.