3 min read

The Joint Pain Ultimatum

Without joints, living an everyday, active life will be near impossible. Joints are where two bones connect and help with bending, twisting, and movement. But the repetitive stress placed on joints can cause chronic pain. Mainly in the knee and hip, joint problems can bring some people to a difficult crossroads: joint surgery. More than 1 million people opt for joint replacement surgery each year, but thousands of others are still unsure.

Why do we get joint pain?

While joints help with movement, these joints need protection from the demands of the body. Most joints have cartilage and synovial fluid that helps with shock absorption. Should the cartilage degrade due to arthritis, injury, or general wear and tear, even the simplest movements become painful. These 4 signs can help patients decide on surgery, known as total joint arthroplasty.

1. A lack of non-surgical relief

There are a range of conservative treatment methods for joint pain. In fact, most doctors will opt for non-surgical treatment first. For instance, doctors will opt for medication, rest, and physical therapy. Over time, these actions can help relieve pain. Other non-surgical treatment includes steroid injections, bracing, and even PRP therapy. If these fail, this could be a clear sign that joint replacement is necessary.

2. A significant decrease in motion

While non-surgical pain management helps, sometimes these steps aren’t enough. The pain can persist, causing a decrease in motion. Lack of activity can restrict the simplest of tasks like climbing stairs, sitting down, dressing, or tending a garden. The reduction in movement may turn costly, like missed days at work, family time, or missed business opportunities. At this point, joint replacement may be best.

3. Chronic and unbearable pain

Degraded joints, like knee joints and hip joints, produce constant pain. Chronic pain is any pain that lasts 3 or more months without relief. Not only does chronic pain impact the affected joint, but surrounding joints, muscles, and tendons can be painful as well. For instance, knee pain can move to the hips and lower back. Hip pain can move to the groin area. Is pain affecting the quality of life? Then don’t ignore this sign.

4. There is significant joint damage

A doctor will do a complete review of the joint. An x-ray or MRI can help show bone and cartilage health, respectively. If there is significant arthritis damage, surgery may help over non-surgical means. Severely degraded cartilage is connected with inflammation and even more wear and tear. No cartilage means the bones begin to wear away at the joint.

Time for your new joint

Patients who opt for surgery will have a total joint arthroplasty. With this procedure, a surgeon removes damaged cartilage at the joint and even some bone. From there, a prosthetic joint takes the place of the damaged cartilage and bone. Further physical therapy and pain management are needed to complete the replacement. In the past, joint replacements were long, open procedures. Now, minimally invasive outpatient surgery means faster recovery and higher success rates. Don’t ignore these obvious signs. Speak with an orthopedic surgeon today.