Signs you need knee replacement surgery

According to the National Joint Registry, over 100,000 knee replacements are now carried out each year in the UK. It is a major, yet effective operation and over time becomes the only way to eradicate pain and improve quality of life. If you’re suffering from severe knee pain, our article will help spot the signs you may need knee replacement surgery.

Patient has knee examined
A patient has their knee examined

Signs you need knee surgery

How do you know when you need a knee replacement? The following are signs and symptoms to look out for and discuss with your GP:

  • 24-hour severe pain in the knee and the surrounding area, or elsewhere such as the hip or ankle, which impacts your daily life even when you are resting
  • swelling and inflammation of the knee which no longer responds to medication
  • stiffness in the knee and immobility
  • ‘bowing’ of the leg
  • non-surgical, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs no longer provide relief from pain
  • difficulty carrying out everyday activities such as climbing stairs
  • disrupted sleep

Pain in your knee?

If you’re experiencing knee pain, try out knee suitability quiz. It will give you an idea of whether you’d benefit from booking a consultation with one of our knee specialists.

Reasons you may need knee surgery

Knee replacement surgery is an effective operation and it is important to heed the signs. Failure to do so could lead to a number of problems including:

  • weakened muscles and ligaments of the knee
  • deformity of the area outside the knee joint
  • limited mobility due to chronic pain and loss of function
  • continued degeneration of the knee joint
  • reduced success rate of any future knee surgery.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms and are worried, you should discuss them with your GP. Unless your symptoms are very severe and debilitating, your GP is likely to first recommend pain relief and/or physiotherapy before suggesting an operation, but if and when they agree that you need a knee replacement you can ask to be referred to us for your treatment.

Is a knee replacement worth it?

If you’re suffering from the signs your knee needs to be replaced, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor. There are alternatives to knee replacement that your doctor may recommend. However, if left untreated, you run the risk of developing the following problems:

  • weakened muscles and ligaments of the knee
  • deformity of the area outside the knee joint
  • limited mobility due to chronic knee pain and loss of function
  • continued degeneration of the knee joint
  • reduced success rate of any future surgery.

Aside from the high success rates, patients who undergo the procedure can expect numerous benefits.

Surgery risks

While knee replacement surgery is considered a safe procedure, there are some risks.

A very small number of patients have suffered from blood clots. If after surgery, you notice hot, reddened, hard or painful areas in your legs, contact your doctor.

In the weeks after surgery, some of the others risks include:

  • infection
  • excess scar tissue
  • allergic reaction
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • nerve damage.

Surgery benefits

Improved mobility and stability can allow you to return to some of the activities you enjoyed before your injury. Treatment with Practice Plus Group offers the added advantage of day knee surgery.

The other big, long term advantage an artificial joint can provide is simply being able to enjoy a better quality of life. Knee surgery can help reduce pain while increasing your ability to move about with more freedom. This is also likely to have a positive effect on your mental health and wellbeing.

Knee replacement signs and symptoms – FAQs

What are the first signs of needing a knee replacement?

Initially, you’re likely to experience knee pain that affects your ability to participate in high impact activities like sport. Over time, patients experience further wear and tear to their knee that will eventually result in the need for surgery.

Can an X-ray show if I need a knee replacement?

No. X-rays can accurately diagnose osteoarthritis. However, they aren’t used as definitive proof a patient requires total knee replacement surgery.

Does you whole leg hurt when you need a knee replacement?

Generally not. Some patients may feel discomfort in their hip or ankle, but the good news is the pain is often localised to the knee. The bad news is that this pain can be severe enough to disrupt sleep and daily activities. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen are unlikely to work, and the pain is likely to be persistent until surgery.

What conditions require knee surgery?

As mentioned previously, one of the main reasons for needing knee surgery is arthritis. That being said, there are a number of other causes and risk factors such as:

  • Haemophilia
  • Gout
  • Disorders resulting in unusual bone growth
  • Death of bone in the knee joint following blood supply problems
  • Knee injury
  • Knee deformity and loss of cartilage.

How do I know if my knee pain is serious?

If you need knee replacement surgery, your knee pain is likely to be persistent. It will likely disrupt your sleep, your daily activities, and won’t respond to over-the-counter pain medications. In order to relieve pain, knee replacement surgery may be recommended by your doctor.