When is it time for a joint replacement?
Q: How do I know when it is time to have my joint replaced?
Arthritis is the primary reason people undergo a joint replacement. The condition causes a loss of cartilage, the soft covering at the end of our bones. When this thins it becomes painful to move. Some patients suffer with the pain for years and limit their daily activities, a difficult situation for both patients and families.
My hope for my patients is that I can help them avoid this type of long-term discomfort. In general, I look for a few key indicators to see if surgery should be a consideration:
- Arthritis pain is constant or present most days of the week
- Patients are limited in their ability to stay active and mobile
- Sleep is difficult
- Medications are constantly required.
I believe it’s often worth at least investigating whether joint surgery is an option that can provide relief. Movement is life. So many people in the Northwest love being active and depend on hiking, running, biking, camping, and skiing for their physical and mental health. It’s also important to be able to be comfortable during day-to-day activities, whether it’s cooking in the kitchen or going on a walk. Patients deserve to know their options so that they can make informed decisions.
The choice to undergo a joint replacement is an important one and it should always be approached thoughtfully and with care and patience. I encourage individuals who are experiencing pain or who are curious about whether they are a candidate for surgery to talk to an orthopedist.
—Carlos Williams, MD
Dr. Carlos Williams believes that movement is life. As an orthopedic surgeon, he is gratified to help patients reclaim their ability to move freely and with less pain. His special medical interests include knee replacements; hip replacements with an anterior approach; and robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery.