What Causes the Need for a Knee Replacement?

Jun 05, 2023
What Causes the Need for a Knee Replacement?
Knee pain can slow you down and hamper your quality of life. Learn why you may need a knee replacement and the symptoms that tell you it’s time for surgery.

Has your knee hurt for a long time? Perhaps you’ve tried standard therapies, and they’re not helping. It may be time to think about knee replacement. 

At Scottsdale Hip and Knee, our caring orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ben Albert, performs knee replacements for patients who haven’t found relief using nonsurgical treatment options. Here, he looks at conditions that knee replacement surgery often addresses. 

Why you might need a knee replacement

Most knee replacements result from arthritis. Three particular forms of arthritis often cause knee pain that only replacement surgery can alleviate. 


Your knee joint includes cartilage, tough tissue that cushions the joint so your bones don’t rub together. With osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, the cartilage has worn to the point that your bones rub together. 

Bone-on-bone pain is severe and debilitating. You might find it nearly impossible to carry out normal daily activities, much less enjoy yourself while you do. 

Working a job that requires physical labor, such as construction, or playing certain sports that stress the knees can cause the gradual wear-and-tear that leads to osteoarthritis. Your genes also may predispose you to osteoarthritis.  Most people don’t develop osteoarthritis that would require a knee replacement until after age 50. 

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition and autoimmune disorder. The immune system that should protect you from harmful invaders attacks your joints by mistake. The inflammation damages your joint tissue, leading to bone-on-bone friction. 

Post-traumatic arthritis

A traumatic knee injury, maybe from a car accident, fall, or sports injury, can lead to early-onset osteoarthritis. For example, a significant ACL tear increases your risk of this form of arthritis. 

Symptoms that signal you need a knee replacement

No one wants to have surgery, but sometimes it’s necessary to maintain mobility and quality of life. The following symptoms suggest it’s likely time for a knee replacement. 

Knee pain that limits your daily activities

Has knee pain caused you to forgo some favorite activities? Has it altered your routine? Perhaps kneeling to work in the garden is no longer possible. Maybe climbing the stairs is so difficult you now sleep on the first floor. In short, is your quality of life suffering?

Knee pain while you rest 

If your pain seems constant and doesn’t stop when you sit down, you may be a candidate for knee replacement.

Knee pain that doesn’t improve with conservative treatment

Is your knee swollen even when you rest your leg? Have you tried physical therapy, medication, injections, and other methods, but they don’t help? When nonsurgical treatments don’t alleviate your knee pain, surgery is the best option. 

Choosing knee replacement

If knee pain is hurting your quality of life, Dr. Albert can help determine what treatment option is right for you. At your consultation, he reviews X-rays of your knee and evaluates your knee’s range of motion, stability, and endurance. 

If you’re a candidate for knee replacement, Dr. Albert's expertise shines through as he explains the reasons why individuals may require a knee replacement. His comprehensive and informative approach ensures that patients understand the underlying causes, such as age-related degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, and other factors, empowering them to make well-informed decisions about their orthopedic health.Whenever possible, he performs muscle sparing surgery and robotic-assisted joint replacement, which has multiple advantages over traditional surgery.

Your health, age, weight, level of physical activity, and knee shape and size all play into these decisions. When it comes to knee replacement, one size doesn’t fit all.

Call Scottsdale Hip and Knee: Dr. Ben Albert or book an appointment online today for knee pain that hasn’t resolved.