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Q: My husband has been told he needs knee surgery and keeps putting it off. What are the risks of delaying knee replacement surgery?

A: The goal of knee replacement surgery is to restore function and to decrease pain.

If the x-rays indicate, and your husband is symptomatic enough, he is a candidate for knee replacement surgery. Delaying treatment means he will endure further pain and suffering, and while there's no real risk in this delay, the arthritis in his knee may worsen over time. This may cause him to limit his activity because he's in pain which may present problems for recovery if he chooses to have surgery at a later time.

The better his motor function is before surgery, the better his knee will bend after surgery. This in itself is an important part of the physical therapy needed postoperatively.

Also, because he is in pain, he may find himself limping. This can cause problems in the other knee and/or also in the lumbar region.

Joint replacement surgery is major surgery. However, if conservative treatments have not helped and he's still experiencing pain, joint replacement will help him return to a healthy lifestyle much sooner.

Most patients spend 2-4 days in the hospital, must be very patient and compliant with postoperative care and therapy, and can expect a complete recovery in 2-6 months.

Allan Tissenbaum, M.D.

Allan Tissenbaum, M.D., The Washington Hospital, can be reached at (724) 206-0610 or visit www.washortho.com.

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