A worn out hip or knee can be painful and disabling, but most people want to hold on to their joints for as long as possible. Undergoing surgery is a big decision and a personal one.
“As far as joint replacement that should be the last resort but if you wait and wait and wait you’re not going to do as well, so it’s really kind of a balancing act,” says Dr. George Markovich, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
A first step is determining how much impact the failing joint is having on your life. When the protective cartilage is gone a person is left with bone rubbing against bone. This final stage can only be repaired through a joint replacement. People know it when they feel it.
“A person that has reached a point where it’s disabling; more bad days than good days in a given month. The medicines and so forth aren’t controlling the symptoms anymore, interfering with sleep. Then its better in terms of the ultimate results,” says Dr. Markovich.
Not to be overlooked is the emotional toll; when someone is losing their zest for life or sitting on the sidelines and skipping activities.
“Their friends are doing things, their family is doing things, and they can’t participate,” says Dr. Markovich.
Another consideration: the economic impact. Pain keeps people from work, even forcing some out of the workplace. In addition to dollars spent on meds.
“All these things they are doing to try and manage their disease is really impacting their life. Emotionally, physically and economically and studies have shown that a well functioning joint replacement will actually save money over time,” says Dr. Markovich.
Only you know when the time is right- it is best to meet with your doctor to discuss your personal progression.