Q: When should I consider having joint-replacement surgery?

A: After years of wear and tear on your body, you may experience joint pain so chronic it can limit your relationships, your ability to work, and your overall quality of life.

Joint pain can be mild, causing soreness during movement. However, the pain can be so severe, it is impossible to use the joint.

If your pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, tenderness and warmth around the joint, you should speak with your doctor about treatment options. Should your joint pain be caused by an injury and is followed by joint deformity, inability to use the joint, intense pain and sudden swelling, see your doctor immediately.

Painful joints can be a daily obstacle, but noninvasive therapies can offer relief before exploring replacement surgery. Ask your doctor about specific exercises, physical therapy, splints or braces, and over-the- counter anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and discomfort. Weight loss can also help relieve pressure on joints if you are overweight. If these methods no longer control the pain and your quality of life is affected, speak with your doctor about possible surgery.

If you suffer from arthritis of the hip or knee, replacing a damaged joint with a new one can eliminate arthritic pain.

Though all surgical procedures involve risks, replacing a damaged joint can significantly ease your pain and enable you to enjoy your favorite active pastimes once again.

After a joint-replacement procedure, you should expect to be in the hospital a few days. Most patients go directly home after their stay. As you become more mobile, you will likely participate in outpatient rehabilitation. This can take a few months to compete.

No one should have to live with daily joint pain and discomfort. Speak with your doctor about treatment options.