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Updated: February 16, 2013 19:24 IST

A knee-jerk reaction

Dr. Rajeev K. Sharma
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Don't ignore the pain. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
The Hindu Don't ignore the pain. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Putting off knee replacement surgery can affect long-term mobility.

Persistent pain in joints like the spine, knee, wrist, ankle or hip have become a part of life for many; however, the seriousness and intensity of the condition may differ. Of all these, pain in the knee needs immediate attention.

Bad knees are a common problem, especially as one gets older. The knee is one of the most used joints in the body and can suffer strain and sprains from improper stretching and quick movements while playing games as well as from osteoarthritis. Also, factors like a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and lack of movement play a vital role in knee damage. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment are important for long-term mobility.

There are people who suffer pain severe enough to restrict work, recreation and the regular activities. In such cases, Knee Joint Replacement is the only way to improve the quality of life.

Significant stiffness in the joint, deformities that hinder normal function of the joint, or arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis makes one a candidate for this surgery.

The procedure replaces the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve pain and disability. It may be performed for other knee diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The procedure has helped individuals return to moderately challenging activities such as golf, bicycling, and swimming.

Knee replacement is a routine surgery. Over 90 per cent of those who have had Total Knee Replacement experience reduced pain and improved function. The surgery can be a blessing for those who suffer from end-stage arthritis. It can mean the difference between living a comfortable and one with severe pain and limited mobility. The factors that are taken into account before opting for surgery include age, weight and overall health.

Most patients delay the surgery unnecessarily for several reasons. The most common are fear of surgery, of ‘losing’ a body part, of post-operative pain, of deterioration of joint, increased pain, and lack of mobility.

However, delaying the surgery can increase risk of deformities, as well as weakness in muscles and ligaments. It can also lead to increased disability/lack of mobility or difficulty with normal activities. When a knee replacement surgery is delayed, the surgical procedure also becomes more complicated, as the deformities may be difficult to correct. The surgery may then take longer and require a longer amount of time under anaesthesia.

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