Knee replacement offers relief for painful problem
Creaky knees may be an unwelcome sign of aging, but for an increasing number of Baby Boomers that sound may be accompanied by unbearable pain that can't be defeated. "Nobody wants to live like that," says Dr. David Fisher, a highly rated orthopedic surgeon in Indianapolis. "Patients who have undergone [knee replacement] surgery can usually walk unlimited distances, go up and down steps and engage in an active lifestyle. It can give them their life back." So, huddle up and scope out a surgery that can get you back in the game.
Alternatives and disadvantages
Before opting for surgery, Fisher suggests trying other options, such as taking medications to treat arthritis, losing weight, exercising or getting a brace. Potential procedure complications, he adds, can include blood clots, infection, healing problems, pain and stiffness, or even death.
Dr. Fisher says osteoarthritis is the No. 1 reason people undergo a knee replacement. "It gradually destroys the cartilage," he says, adding the lack of cartilage causes the knee bones to meet at an abnormal angle and rub together. This results in pain and discomfort.
Hospitals bill approximately $45,700 for knee replacement surgery, which doesn’t include surgeon or anesthesia fees. “Confirm your insurance company will cover the surgery and find out what your co-pay will be,” says Jason McNichol, president of Health Advocacy Solutions in Portland, Ore.
After a total knee replacement, Fisher says recovery can take anywhere from six weeks up to a year. The key to rebounding is to move immediately. “It’s critical for patients to do physical therapy,” he says. “If you lay around after the surgery, the knee will stiffen up and it’s not likely to bend again.”