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Knee arthritis: When is it the right time for a knee replacement?


Most common misconception among patients suffering with longstanding knee pain due to arthritis, is how do I avoid surgery at all costs. Many have long standing beliefs, biases and fears about surgery and complications which prevent them from taking the leap and in the process endure long periods of rest pain, difficulties with activities of daily living, climbing stairs and basic function like walking.

Why knee replacement?

Knee replacement is one of the most successful orthopaedic surgeries. The tribology (metal and plastic), the instrumentation for implanting a knee and the surgical technique has improved over the years to such a fine extent, that it has almost reached a near perfect standard. The current success rate of knee replacement is almost 90 -95% survival at 15 yrs. The overall complication rate following surgery is 2-5%. There is absolutely no reason to avoid this surgery when it is indicated.


So when should one "bite the bullet".

Age >65 years, knee pain at rest or at night, difficulty walking or climbing stairs and exhaustive conservative measures for at least 6 months with x-rays showing degenerative changes are the most common indication for knee replacement. Of course there are other factors to consider such as medical problems like High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, etc. and social factors such as post operative rehabilitation potential, help at home, etc.

Whats the alternative?

What are the conservative measures for treating knee arthritis?

The mainstay of this line of treatment is lifestyle modification & diet to reduce weight and specific physiotherapy for muscle strengthening. Both of these would reduce the load on the knee joint and thereby reduce pain. Other ancillary measures include pain killers. The role of cartilage protectors such chondroitin sulfate or glucosamine tablets is controversial and the actual benefit from these is not proven.


One doesn't have to suffer from pain due to knee arthritis when the treatment available in the form of knee replacement is a safe, reliable and an effective option.


If you need more information, click on to chat with an orthopaedic surgeon.

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