As you get older, your joints might start to give you pain and discomfort. The knee, in particular, is vulnerable to damage from arthritis and other conditions. If the problem is severe enough, your doctor might recommend that you undergo knee replacement surgery. The following article answers some crucial questions about this medical procedure.

What Are the Signs to Watch For? 

Anyone can have aches and pains in their knees, especially older people, but if the pain is persistent and you are continually having to take painkillers to deal with that situation, this could be a sign that you need to consider replacement surgery. Other key signs include difficulty negotiating stairs, swollen or stiff knees, and a knee that has a deformity, such as a bow. If you notice any of these issues, contact your physician for a consultation.

Do Only Older People Get the Surgery?

The average age for someone getting knee replacement surgery is 65 and medical experts consider anyone under age 50 who gets the operation to be a young patient. Despite this, the most rapidly growing group who get the surgery is patients under 50. Doctors, however, still often recommend that younger patients avoid getting the surgery if the problem can be managed in some other way.

The reason a doctor might give that advice is that knee replacements tend to wear out over time and younger patients are more likely to need a modification to their replacement in the future. Because a modification or major overhaul to a knee replacement is not as effective as the first surgery, younger patients might be advised to wait until they are 60 or older to have the surgery.

How Much Pain Is Involved? 

For two to three weeks after your replacement, you will have some pain, although typically the pain is not worse than any pain you had before the operation. Your healthcare team will work out a pain management plan with you, which will probably include icing and elevating your knee as well as the use of painkillers. By four to six weeks after the surgery, the pain should be considerably less.

How Long Is the Recovery Period?

The period of a full recovery will probably last about one year. At four to six weeks you should be able to walk without any assistance or aids for 10 minutes. By 12 weeks after the surgery, you should be able to walk several blocks without any aids and you might even be able to perform activities such as golf or yoga. At one year you should be almost or completely fully recovered.

To learn more about knee replacement surgery, consult with an orthopedist.