Hip and Knee Pain: When is it Time to Consider Surgery?

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Hospital for Special Surgery encourages arthritis patients to consider joint replacement surgery when pain becomes severe and disabling.

Take measures to relieve joint pain before surgery is necessary.

Patients should consider joint replacement surgery when the pain in an arthritic joint is severe and disabling.

Arthritis patients who experience disabling pain associated with limp, loss of function and mobility should ask their doctors about joint replacement surgery, says Hospital for Special Surgery, a leader in arthritis treatment and research.

“As the progression of arthritis cannot be stopped, patients should consider joint replacement surgery when the pain in an arthritic joint is severe and disabling,” says Alejandro González Della Valle, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

The best candidates for surgery are people who have seen deterioration in their quality of life or ability to perform simple, daily tasks. Going for a walk or performing a non-impact recreational sport should not be difficult.

Before arthritic pain is severe enough to consider surgery, some simple measures can be implemented to diminish pain and promote joint health. Hospital for Special Surgery provides the following tips:

  •     Respect the pain you feel. Perform activities only to the point of discomfort.
  •     Plan ahead, and be realistic about what you can do.
  •     Bend from the knees when lifting and carrying weights over 30-40 pounds.
  •     Reduce repetitive impact on joints, and distribute weight evenly.
  •     When walking more than four or five miles, wear well-padded shoes with rubber soles.
  •     Consider losing weight to reduce the stress you put on your joints.
  •      Seek conservative treatment. In its early stages, arthritis pain can be managed by acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Some patients benefit from injections into the joint (intra-articular injections).

The Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at Hospital for Special Surgery is the world leader in hip, knee and surgical arthritis patient treatment, education, innovation and research. For more information, visit http://www.hss.edu.


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Phyllis Fisher
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