A new study found most patients who need a knee replacement are waiting too long and are missing out on the benefits of total joint replacement.
Knee replacement is one of the most successful procedures performed today, and it is effective to relieve pain and improve mobility. Doctors perform almost one million knee replacements every year. The average age of a patient scheduling total knee replacement is 70 years of age, and about 60 percent are women. Even though knee replacement is safe and produces good results, a new study from Northwestern Medicine claims patients are not scheduling their knee replacement at the optimum time.
Hassan Ghomrawi, associate professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, led the study which analyzed more than 8,000 participants who had knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for the condition. Ghomrawi found 90 percent of patients with knee arthritis waited too long to have knee replacement and were not reaping the benefits of surgery. Also, 25 percent of patients who did not even need knee replacement were scheduling surgery too early. Ghomrawi asserted correct timing is essential to maximize effectiveness of total knee replacement.
Problems With Delaying or Rushing Knee Replacement
“People are waiting and waiting to have the procedure and losing the most benefit,” Ghomrawi stated. “When people wait too long, two things happen. The osteoarthritis causes deterioration of their function. Some of them wouldn’t be able to straighten out their legs, affecting their walking and mobility. When you can’t get exercise, you can start to develop other health problems such as cardiovascular problems. You may also become depressed. The overall impact can be huge.”
The study also found race affected patients’ decisions regarding timing of knee replacement. African-American patients were more likely to delay total knee replacement than Caucasian patients.
Scheduling knee surgery too early could mean patients may need to have a second surgery later in life, which could increase risk for less favorable outcomes and longer recovery time. The best timing for total knee replacement is based on a combination of factors such as age, joint function, pain and radiographic assessment.
Ghomrawi said doctors must make sure the timing of total knee replacement is optimal to offer patients the greatest benefit and keep healthcare costs manageable. “Because knee replacement is an elective procedure, the timing of surgery is susceptible to not just clinical factors but also demographic, socioeconomic and sociocultural ones,” Ghomrawi explained. “We need to develop a better understanding of these factors to improve timing of surgery.”
Schedule a Visit to Your Doctor
Are you interested in total knee replacement? Correct timing is essential. Make an appointment with your doctor so you can discuss the best timing for your surgery. Knee replacement surgery can help you regain your independence by alleviating pain and increasing your mobility, but talk to your doctor to make sure you are scheduling it at the optimum time.