Delaying total knee replacement surgery for more than a year may cause poorer outcomes for patient, says a new study by Mark D. Rossi, PT, PhD, CSCS et al. The study examines the outcomes of patients who elected to pursue knee replacement surgery soon after their initial orthopedic office visit, compared with those who wait for more than 325 days to undergo the procedure.
Patients who receive the surgery earlier, the study shows, have decreased pain and improved mobility after the procedure. Those who wait, on the other hand, show decreased functionality and a higher level of pain. “Those who have longer waiting periods perceive greater pain and difficulty with tasks, place less body weight over the involved limb during squatting, and have worse mobility scores than their counterparts who have less of a waiting time to have surgery,” the study indicates.
The group that delayed surgery scored significantly lower on most of the evaluations, including the ability to place weight on the operated leg and perform exercises, as well as a decreased range of motion. The late surgical group also reported “significantly greater pain” in their operated knees.
While Rossi et al. submit that more research must be done to reach a solid conclusion, these results indicate that knee replacement candidates are likely to achieve better outcomes by pursuing surgery sooner rather than waiting.
Many Americans, especially those without health insurance, cannot afford the high cost of knee replacement surgery in the United States, and are forced to delay total knee replacement for years – possibly resulting in poorer outcomes, as this study shows. While the cost of knee replacement in the United States is high – as much as $65,000 in many cases – the procedure is much less costly in other parts of the world.
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