Commonwealth Orthopaedics: Do You Need a Joint Replacement?

05.27.2013 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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As a total joint surgeon for the past 20 years, I have spent a great deal of time counseling patients with hip and knee arthritis who are considering their alternatives.

The two most common questions patients ask me are:

1. “Will I need a joint replacement?"
2. “When should I have a joint replacement?"

The first question is fairly easily answered. A good medical history, examination and simple x-rays can usually establish a diagnosis of arthritis. Given the progressive nature of arthritic diseases, these patients are potential candidates for joint replacement surgery.

Of course, other treatment options for arthritis short of joint replacement must be considered first. These include:

• exercise
• weight control
• activity modification
• bracing
• corticosteroid injection
• visco-supplementation
• arthroscopic debridement

The second question, as to when to proceed with the surgery, is sometimes more difficult to answer. Most importantly, the decision when or when not to proceed with surgery must be individualized for each patient based on many factors. I remind patients that joint replacement is an elective procedure so it can be planned for. Patients should be in optimal medical condition and not proceed with surgery if there are other acute medical problems or illnesses. Rather, these types of issues should be addressed prior to surgery as much as possible so as to not complicate recovery.

For more information about total joint replacement, go to

Mark C. Hartley, MD; Commonwealth Orthopaedics


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