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Osteoarthritis is one of the most common reasons for severe knee pain. It is wear and tear of the joints, and is a progressive, degenerative condition that worsens over time. It impacts approximately 27 million Americans today. It is expected by 2030 that approximately 20% of Americans — 70 million people — will be at an increased risk for osteoarthritis.
Often people ignore their knee pain not realizing that the pain can affect more than their mobility, including their personal relationships. So, at what point should you stand up to your knee pain?
Dr. John Wright, Medical Leader at medical device company DePuy Synthes, maker of joint replacement implants, and former Clinical Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shares how you know your body is telling you to address your knee pain.
1. If you find yourself skipping social events because of your knee pain. When you have knee pain, short walks or getting up and down can be a real challenge. Sometimes the pain will cause people will give up special social events or even a weeknight dinner out with friends.
2. If your personal relationships are suffering because you are feeling down and unable to participate in certain activities.Knee pain can be a daily struggle which can negatively impact your emotions. The worry resulting from your knee pain can put unnecessary stress around family vacations or other planned activities.
3. If you find yourself making small changes to lessen the pain. As a degenerative disease, osteoarthritis pain gradually becomes more severe over time. Take notice if you are making minor adjustments to limit your movement from day-to-day, like minimizing trips up and down the stairs.
4. If your knee pain is causing you to self-negotiate. People experiencing knee pain often will start making deals with themselves as they are reluctant to address their knee pain — deals like, “I will speak to a doctor once I am unable to play tennis anymore.” Unfortunately, for those experiencing knee pain, they often keep moving their personal goal posts, causing treatment to be delayed until the pain is too severe.
5. If you find yourself giving up a hobby you love. Typically, as people give up activities over time as they age, like sports or hobbies, they do not return to them. If you find yourself giving up your love of hiking or spending less time in the garden because of your knee pain, it is an indication you need to address it.
Unfortunately, many people ignore knee pain for years, compromising the potential benefits of a replacement surgery in the future. That is why it is important to recognize and act to address your knee pain sooner rather than later.
It’s important to remember that the performance of hip or knee replacements depends on age, weight, activity level and other factors. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have these surgeries. Only an orthopedic surgeon can determine if hip or knee replacement is necessary based on an individual patient’s condition.