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When Do I Need a Knee Replacement?

Have you been dealing with knee pain, stiffness or mobility issues for quite some time? Are you wondering when enough is enough? You want to play with your grandkids or enjoy a game of tennis and you want to live your life pain-free. But when do I need a knee replacement?

If you have conservatively tried other treatments and they are no longer working well, a knee replacement surgery could be the best option to get you back on your feet.

It’s generally considered a safe procedure and has a high rate of success.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, most knee replacements done in the last 15 years are still going strong.

And based on what our patients tell us, they usually regret not getting surgery sooner.

Signs You're Ready for a Knee Replacement

While every case is different, here are the signs that knee replacement surgery might be the best option for you:

Non-surgical options are no longer working

When your knee pain first started, you may have found relief from simple home remedies like ibuprofen, ice or a hot bath. But as time has gone on, these treatments may have lost their effectiveness.

Luckily, there are other non-surgical options for knee pain that can provide relief. Physical therapy, cortisone injections, orthobiologics and weight loss are all viable options that should be considered before surgery.

When these non-surgical options are no longer effective, surgery may be the best course of action to finally alleviate your knee pain.

Knee pain is affecting your quality of life

Many of us have felt a shooting pain in our knees after sitting for too long or walking around all day. This can be annoying, but it's perfectly normal – and these pains often go away quickly. However, experiencing knee pain regularly or feeling intense knee pain is not something that should happen on a regular basis.

While pain manifests differently for everyone, there are some commonalities we tell our patients to look out for, like:

  • Knee pain that lasts for more than a couple weeks
  • Knee pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Knee aches during and after exercise
  • Knee pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Knee pain that gets worse in humid or cold weather

This nagging and disruptive knee pain can be a sign that joint wear and tear is getting worse. And the more worn out your joints get, the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis – a degenerative joint disease that causes even more pain, stiffness, and swelling. If you’re experiencing any of these types of knee pain, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Your Mobility is Becoming Limited

It’s normal to lose some joint flexibility as you get older. But persistent knee stiffness that affects your mobility can be a sign of a more complicated knee concern. Knee replacement surgery may be something to consider if you’re experiencing any of the following issues: 

  • Knee stiffness that becomes worse after sitting for a long period of time, like on a long car ride or during a movie 
  • Knee stiffness that requires the use of a cane or other mobility device 
  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs, standing up from chairs or climbing out of the bathtub 
  • Morning knee stiffness that lasts for up to 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that losing mobility can affect your overall quality of life and make everyday activities more difficult. If you’re concerned about your mobility, contact your doctor to discuss your options.

Your Knee is Swelling

One of the most common causes of knee swelling is arthritis, which occurs when the cartilage around the knee joint begins to wear out. This can lead to pain and difficulty moving the joint, as well as swelling. If you are experiencing consistent or recurring knee swelling, it is important to see a doctor.

Swelling can be a sign of damage to the cartilage, which can in turn cause further wear and tear on the joint. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential in order to prevent further damage to the joint and maintain mobility.

Outpatient Knee Replacement Surgery

If you and your doctor have decided that knee replacement surgery is the best option for you, there’s no need to worry – the surgery is generally very successful. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over 90% of patients who undergo a knee replacement report a significant decrease in pain and an increase in mobility.

Knee replacement surgery at Prime Surgical Suites is performed as an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day as your surgery. The surgery itself takes a couple of hours, and you will be under general anesthesia during the procedure.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.