If you struggle with chronic arthritis or other serious pain in your knee, you may be looking forward to a knee replacement at some point. Many patients put off this surgery for as long as possible. This is not surprising as knee replacement is a pretty invasive surgery with a long recovery time. But if you know you'll need knee replacement at some point, is it really wise to put the surgery off as long as possible? Probably not! In fact, there are a few pretty big reasons to schedule your knee replacement sooner rather than later.
There's Less Risk of Pain Reliever Side Effects and Addiction
As your knee pain grows more serious, you're likely to become more reliant on pain relievers to keep you on your feet. If you use opiate pain relievers, there's a significant risk of addiction that increases as you begin using these medications more often or in higher doses. And even NSAID pain relievers, like ibuprofen and naproxen, have side effects including liver and stomach damage. If you have your knee replaced sooner, then you can cut back on your use of pain relievers a lot sooner, which is better for your overall health and well-being.
Your Muscles Will Be Stronger
As your knee becomes more and more sore, you'll likely begin using that leg less and less. As such, you may experience some muscle loss in that leg. Then, when you do have your knee replacement surgery, you'll have more strength to recover. Your recovery might take longer, and you'll almost certainly need to work a lot harder in physical therapy. If you have you knee replaced earlier when your muscles are still stronger, you'll recover more easily and your physical therapy will be easier to get through.
You May Not Need a Full Knee Replacement
There are several kinds of knee replacement. If you have your knee replaced earlier, you may only need a partial knee replacement, which is faster and easier to recover from. But if you keep hobbling around on a painful knee for a few more years, the rest of the structures in your knee may deteriorate because of the abnormal way you're walking on your knee. Then, you might need a full knee replacement, which is more invasive and harder to recover from.
If you're going to need a knee replacement eventually, you might as well have it soon. Putting off this surgery doesn't do you many favors in the long run.