Dr. Courtney Ellstrom, Doctorate of Physical Therapy warns against postponing knee replacement surgery.
As a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Practicing Physical Therapist, I often recommend trying Physical Therapy before seriously considering any orhtopedic surgery. Several studies have shown that Physical Therapy is as effective as Surgery and Physical Therapy combined. However, there are few exceptions and one of those is people requiring a knee replacement. We can strengthen muscles and ligaments, temporarily relieve pain, and deal with the issues that lead to knee issues, however because of the severe degradation of the knee patients requiring a knee replacement expose themselves to a number of other risks.
Below is a number of risks that a patient should consider while foregoing a knee replacement
1. Weight Gain
Often times degradation of the knee causes bone to be on top of bone. This is extremely painful. The effect of this is often times a decrease in activity level because of pain. This decrease in activity level has an overall effect on the number of calories we burn in a day and usually results in weight gain. Weight gain can lead to a higher incidence of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and even extra pressure on the knee itself.
2. Hip Replacement
Often times patients will drastically change their normal posture due avoid the pain caused by their knee. This often causes a significant increase in pressure to the hips and the unaffected knee. This could lead to two knees that must be replaced or a hip replacement, which is a much more invasive surgery. Unfortunately, we have seen many patients who have had multiple surgeries that all resulted from one issue.
3. Loss of Muscle Mass
Our legs have more muscle than any other part of our body. Not only does knee pain stop us from regular exercise, but it causes most people to fundamentally change how their body moves. Instead of squatting to sit down which works our quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, it turns into pulling or pushing yourself out of a chair. In addition, there is a much higher likelihood of staying in that seat for a longer period of time and depending on others to do tasks for you. Decreased muscle mass can lead to a significant lowering of your basal metabolic rate which can also lead to abnormal weight gain.
4. Isolation from Family and Friends
As a Physical Therapist Chino we often get complaints from patients that they feel isolated from family and friends. I am not saying that family members will specifically exclude you from events. Let me give you an example. Your daughter wants to take the kids to the county fair. She wants you to be there, but the children will be moving at a fast pace playing games and getting to all the rides. She doesn’t want to put you in pain and needs to make sure she is keeping up with the kids. Modified versions of these events happen a lot and can make patients needing knee replacements to feel alone and isolated.
We encourage you to see your Orthopedist if you feel that you might be a candidate for a knee replacement. If you would like a second opinion, schedule a free consultation with me or one of our Physical Therapists. We will be able to give you an honest opinion on if we think Physical Therapy might make a difference in your knee pain. Make sure you bring your x-ray and doctors report the the free consultation. You can schedule your free appointment by calling 951.684.2874. You can also click on this link to set up an appointment using our online appointment service.