When Is Surgery Required for Joint Pain?

How to keep your joints healthy

Surgery for joint pain: Millions of people in India and across the globe undergo joint replacement surgeries (knee replacement and hip replacement) owing to severe destructive damage caused to their joints. The number one reason for this is osteoarthritis of the joints which is a progressive, painful and destructive condition of the joints. If you are wondering whether your painful joint condition is due to osteoarthritis of the knee joint, let us try to understand when is surgery required for your joint pain and how effective are other treatment options.

Why You should not delay seeking an appointment with a joint specialist doctor if your joint hurts?

This is important because if your severe joint pain (knee or hip pain) impacts mobility – owing to which your movement becomes restricted and you may start getting confined to your couch, sofa, chair, or bed. Once your life becomes sedentary, your condition may worsen. In these circumstances, many people may gain weight which further augments the pain and increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Why You Should Never Ignore Your Joint Pain?

In the beginning, the joint disease causes pain and stiffness and then progress slowly causing mild to moderate pain. The intensity of pain increases gradually with inflammation in the joint and pain becomes severe. The disease progresses to the point where getting out of chair and bed becomes difficult, walking upstairs and downstairs become painful, and getting dressed up becomes problematic. The life then becomes sedentary with an increased risk of falls and injuries.

Treatment options before surgery for joint pain

Physical therapy – Physical treatment to strengthen and extend the muscles around your knee may be recommended by your orthopedic doctor.

Oral Medications – Anti-inflammatory medicines or supplements, whether over-the-counter or prescribed, maybe the initial step toward pain alleviation. However, they haven’t proven to be very useful in curing osteoarthritis. Anti-inflammatory medicines may have negative side effects such as stomach aches, heartburn, and liver problems.

Topicals – As per the Arthritis Foundation, anti-inflammatory gels and lotions are available over the counter and by prescription, and they can help alleviate joint discomfort in some individuals.

Injections – Corticosteroid injections, which the doctor explains as particularly successful at decreasing pain and swelling, are often the second step. However, the advantage is only temporary. Corticosteroid injections, if given repeatedly, might cause damage. Another approach for treating knee osteoarthritis pain is to inject hyaluronic acid into the joint.

When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition as it gets worse over time. If you don’t treat it in time, the condition may progress to a stage where alternative treatments no longer work.

The progression of arthritis may cause the formation of bone spurs wherein small cartilage and bone pieces may break off and cause inflammation in the knee joint making the cartilage deteriorate further. This condition may lead to severe inflammation and joint pain.

If your X-ray shows a bone-on-bone condition (bones rub against each other) with substantial tissue damage, your joint replacement surgeon may recommend knee replacement surgery.

Your doctor keeps the following questions in mind when he considers surgery

Is the pain progressive?

Is the pain getting worse day by day?

Is the pain unbearable?

Are you finding it difficult to work and perform your job?

Are your joint pain-causing problems with sleep?

Are you finding it difficult to walk, move and bend your joints?

Has your knee become unstable?

Surgery for joint pain: Another factor your doctor may consider before recommending joint replacement surgery is your age. It is better to talk about the outcome of the replacement and your expectations if you are in your forties and fifties. Middle-aged and older people should also know the outcomes of the procedure especially if they want to remain more active after the recovery period.


After you have chosen to have surgery, your doctor will discuss the surgical outcome and recovery period – which is usually set down to around 8 to 10 weeks. However, with Robotic Joint Replacement Surgery for joint pain, you can expect a shorter recovery period. Complete recovery most often depends on whether you follow all the instructions given by your joint replacement surgeon. However, you may get issues if you return to work even before you are fit or don’t take proper rest and don’t do the exercises recommended by your physiotherapist.