What Happens When You Delay A Joint Replacement

August 21, 2019

Joint replacement surgery is the procedure carried out to remove diseased or damaged parts of a joint. These parts are replaced by new, man-made parts. This can help you reduce the pain and move your joint better. The most replaced joints are knees and hips. But, many times when people have had their joint replacement surgery done, they wonder if they could have waited a little longer. Surgery is a big step and it is normal to be not ready for it. There are several methods that can be used to delay joint replacement surgery. But is it worth it? What are the complications that arise by delaying the replacement? Will the delay make the surgery more complicated? We answer all such questions to clear your doubts about delaying Joint Replacement Surgery.

Usually, when you delay surgery, it does not get more difficult or complicated to perform. People diagnosed with knee arthritis or hip arthritis need time to determine if they are ready for Joint replacement surgery. They might want to look at simple, alternative forms of treatment, take a second opinion, or just want some time to consider their options. Even if you delay the surgery for months or a couple of years, there will be no major consequences. But delaying the surgery for a prolonged time will cause some issues. Here are a few concerns that accompany the delayed Joint replacement surgery.

General Medical Health

If you have delayed your joint replacement surgery there will definitely be increased difficulty and there is no amount of technical difficulty that cannot be overcome by the expertise of the surgery. However, in some patients, the delay leads to more medical problems due to decreased physical activity and aging. This includes pulmonary & cardiac conditions, decreased endurance, and weight gain.

Stiffness of Joint

As your arthritis starts to get worse, the mobility of the joints will decrease. This will result in contraction and stiffness in the tissues near the joint including joint cap, ligaments, and muscles. This is the most common case in people up for knee replacement surgery. When you have undergone the surgical procedure, mobility is the best indication of its success.

Worsening of Joint Deformity

When a joint starts to deform, it degrades gradually over the course of months and years. In some cases, this degrade is accelerated. If you keep delaying your Joint replacement surgery, this damage is only going to get worse. For example, if you have hip arthritis, your bone and cartilage will start to wear away slowly resulting in shortening of your leg. In the case of knee arthritis, delay in the surgery can lead to bow-legged or knock-kneed deformity. If any of this happens, your surgeon will have to perform a more complicated, extensive surgery or use special implants when you finally go for the joint replacement surgery.

Strength of Muscles

As mentioned earlier, arthritis limits the mobility of the joint making the muscles of the joint weak. If you try to use your joint or do anything that physical exerts it, you will feel pain. If your muscles get too weak, you will not be able to completely rehabilitate after your surgery as your muscles will never be back to their original strength.

Compensatory Issues and Problems

This issue is the most controversial and debatable problem associated with delaying of the joint replacement surgery. Experts are still discussing the extent of the compensatory problems a body can develop due to the delay. It is a fact that people with arthritis burden other parts of the body or favors the healthy joint over arthritis one. This is the reason why people with knee arthritis often have pain in their opposite knee and hip arthritis’ patients experience severe back pain.

But no matter the consequences of the surgery, if you are not ready for the surgery you can always delay it. Just make sure that you don’t put it off for too long so that the damage becomes irreversible.