How to tell when it’s time for hip or knee surgery and why you shouldn’t delay
Pain and stiffness in your hips or knees don’t necessarily mean you need surgery – but if surgery is the solution you need, how do you know when it’s time?
Knee and hip pain doesn’t always mean you need surgery. Many people live with joint pain and get advice from their GP about medications to manage it. But asking your GP to refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon could help you make some critical decisions about your future mobility. A physiotherapist can also help by giving your exercises to help keep you mobile.
Dr Dan Fick and his team will always help you navigate your options before you make a decision to have surgery.
“My goal is to help my patients be mobile, pain-free and healthy,” says Dan. “That may require surgery for a full or partial joint replacement, but I will never suggest hip or knee surgery unless it’s the best option for the person in front of me.”
Before surgery, you might consider anti-inflammatory pain medications, joint injections or weight loss, if you need to lose some kilos. You might try to build up some muscle strength by walking more often and for longer than you do now. In fact, building up muscle strength could be useful if you do eventually need surgery.
“Having a consultation with us early in your decision-making process is crucial. We can help you manage your joint pain and modify your lifestyle, and then we can help you decide if surgery is right for you.”
8 key signs it’s time for joint surgery
- You find it very difficult to complete routine tasks without getting some help.
- You struggle with everyday movements like walking and bending.
- Your joints feel painful even when you’re resting.
- Joint pain keeps you awake at night, or wakes you up.
- You’ve tried non-surgical options and realise that surgery is the best way to boost your quality of life.
- Your joint pain is affecting your outlook on life, not to mention its impact on your physical wellbeing.
- You have advanced arthritis, deformed joints or significant joint damage.
- You’re having side effects from the medications you need to ease your joint pain.
Why you shouldn’t delay joint surgery if you need it
“Some people worry about having surgery, but they don’t even think about the consequences of not having surgery! If your hip or knee joints are affecting your mobility and impacting your everyday life, delaying surgery will only make matters worse.
“The good news is that orthopaedic surgery is not like it used to be. With significant advances in anaesthetics and surgical techniques, there is no need to feel anxious or worried about having a procedure to help you regain your mobility and enjoy your life.”
Here are some of the consequences of delaying joint surgery.
- Further damage to your bones and joints
Additional bone loss, cartilage damage and eventual joint deformity will make future surgery more complicated and less effective.
- Muscle weakness
The more pain you feel, the less you want to move, leading to weakened muscles and debilitation in everyday life, not to mention making post-surgical rehabilitation even harder if you eventually decide to have surgery.
- Increased risk of falls as you get older
Weakened muscles and damaged joints are a risky combination, putting you at risk of falls and broken bones as time goes on.
- Longer recovery time after future surgery
By the time you eventually decide to have surgery, you’ll be older, with more damage to your joints, and you may have other conditions such as heart disease. All of these factors make recovery from surgery more complicated.