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The Risk of Delaying a Total Knee Replacement

September 23, 2021

We understand the appeal you might see in putting off a surgery. Maybe your life is busy and you are waiting for a quieter time, maybe you have fears about the procedure or are concerned about the recovery process, or maybe you just haven’t made the time to call to schedule your appointment. Studies show that up to 90% of individuals who need a knee replacement wait too long, however delaying the procedure could deprive patients of a surgery’s full potential or cause greater pain. 

When a patient waits too long for a knee replacement, the osteoarthritis creates continued deformity of the knee joint. This causes the body to compensate and places additional stress and strain on other parts of the body. This compensation can affect your muscles and ligaments, skeletal system, hips, and even your good knee. 

Deterioration of function can also lead to the inability to be active, which can lead to additional problems due to weight gain, low endurance, cardiac conditions, or emotional health. This can also slow down the recovery process and can make post-operative procedures, like physical therapy, more challenging. 

As the joint deteriorates while delaying a total knee replacement, the overall replacement process can become more complicated. The surgeon will need to navigate the increased deformity of the joint while operating. This leads to a longer surgery, resulting in a higher risk of postoperative concerns including blood clots or infections. 

Patients who wait longer also do not tend to get as much function back after surgery as someone who had it sooner. A good indicator of expected motion after surgery is the mobility of the knee before replacement. 

While one reason patients put off a surgery is to postpone an unpleasant experience, by delaying you are ultimately dealing with chronic pain for a longer period of time, which affects your quality of life. As months or even years go on, you are also aging. With age comes longer and more difficult recovery times as well as other health issues that may affect a surgery. The younger and healthier a patient is at the time of surgery is typically a good indication of how well surgery and recovery will go. 

When hesitant to schedule a joint replacement surgery, remember that knee replacement is one of the most successful surgical procedures. At Orthopaedic Associates, we use cutting-edge, minimally invasive techniques in a comfortable setting with the best team in the region to ensure the best possible experience, recovery, and outcome. Learn more about our joint replacement services at www.oaduluth.com/joint-replacement-specialists.php

It is important to stay proactive when it comes to a total knee replacement. Make an appointment by calling (218) 722-5513 to consult your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon and talk about your best options to help you live in motion.