Knee Replacement

Once again, an incurable disease related to aging is blamed for bodily failure. This time it is osteoarthritis in the knees.

Knee cartilage becomes damaged or wears out, causing bones to rub and pain to follow. According to most sources the most common cause of damaged cartilage is osteoarthritis – which is is a normal result of aging according to the the US National Library of Medicine  (although they do cite other sources, including heredity, body weight, fractures and stress from activities).

After about age 50, throughout our bodies, but especially at stressed joint points, the osteoarthritis eats away at our cartilage, causing stiffness and pain in our joints. If you wake up in the morning with a stiff back (and didn’t do anything the day before to cause it) you might have osteoarthritis. If your joints pop and crack when you move – even without pain – you may have it. It’s very annoying to try to get up from the sofa and not be able to move about with flexibility until you loosen things up a bit!

What is osteoarthritis?

Although most sources dismiss it as the result of wear and tear, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has this definition:

“Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint as well as bony overgrowth. The breakdown of these tissues eventually leads to pain and joint stiffness. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, hips, and those in the hands and spine. The specific causes of osteoarthritis are unknown, but are believed to be a result of both mechanical and molecular events in the affected joint.”

This is a better definition, because until we acknowledge that it is actually a disease and not just something that happens with age, a cure will never be sought. After all, if it is inevitable with age, why don’t all old people have it?

Relief for worn out knees – knee replacements.

The cure? None, but relief can be had via knee replacement surgery. Yes, you too can be a cyborg – part human, part machine!

Before considering total knee replacement surgery, you should check out other remedies, as this, as any, surgery can have some bad repercussions.

What is knee replacement surgery?

The Mayo Clinic site describes it this way:

“During knee replacement, a surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap and replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.”

Sounds like great fun, no? NO.

There are both pre-operative and post-operative things to do. Most sources report that at least 6 weeks is required afterward to get back to normal, assuming none of the risks of surgery happen to you.

Is a knee replacement worth the risk?

A Wall Street Journal article Knee Replacements Determined to be Cost Effective   stated that it had been found to be ‘cost efficient’ surgery – reporting on a study and further stating that  “total knee replacement provided about one year of better quality of life compared to that experienced by patients who didn’t have the procedure.”

The Mayo Clinic states that most people “experience significant pain relief, improved mobility and a better overall quality of life”

Can knee replacement surgery be prevented?

If you don’t already have cracking, painful knees or other joints, there are just a few things you can try to avoid them.

Don’t get fat. The extra weight is harder mechanically on the joints.

Don’t stress your joints with activities – but do stay active with joint friendly exercise.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional so do not rely on the above information to make a decision to have or not have any kind of medical procedures. I do have osteoarthritis and am personally acquainted with knee and back pain!

Additional sources:

  • Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery