Skip to main content

When is the right time for knee replacement surgery?

December 5, 2013

Total knee replacement has long been a popular option for older adults experiencing significant arthritis pain, but the number of individuals with this condition has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Around 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed annually, and although previous years may have seen seniors elect to go under the knife due to severe discomfort, today it's often because they want to stay active during retirement, AARP reported.

While it offers considerable benefits, total knee replacement is still a substantial surgery and should not be entered into lightly. Experts say there are a few signs in particular that could signal that undergoing knee replacement surgery is the right choice.

One of the first indications that seniors could benefit from an artificial joint is if less invasive therapies have stopped being as effective as they once were. According to AARP, these include treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections or physical therapy.  Additionally, seniors who feel they must avoid minor activity should consider replacement. Difficulty sleeping can also signal that it's time to consider the surgery.

After making the decision to have surgery, seniors still face some tough choices. Perhaps most significantly, they need to decide where they are going to have the procedure performed. According to AARP, seniors should choose a surgeon who performs at least 50 procedures a year. 

"Complications are lowest for surgeons and hospitals that perform a larger number of replacements," Dr. Carl Deirmengian, an orthopedic surgeon, told AARP. 

It's also important for seniors to know what to expect after the surgery is completed. According to the Mayo Clinic, patients can return to normal levels of activity four to six weeks after surgery.