Does the staircase in your home sometimes feel like Mount Everest? Have you ever skipped a fun outing because you were nervous you couldn’t keep up? Do you wish that airport moving walkways weren’t just in airports?

If so, you’re not alone. You’re one of the millions of American women living with chronic knee pain.

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to need knee replacements due to a higher rate of osteoarthritis in women. This higher rate of arthritis is due to a cruel combination of:

  • Biology – To accommodate childbirth, women are wider at the hips than at the knees. This puts extra pressure on knee joints over time.
  • Genetics – If your mother suffered or suffers from arthritis, it is more likely that you will too.
  • Aging – Estrogen works as an anti-inflammatory agent inside of joints. When women go through menopause and estrogen levels drop, arthritis often takes hold.
  • Lifestyle – Each child you have increases your chances of requiring knee replacement surgery by 8 percent. Overweight women have an increased chance of needing a knee replacement as well as female athletes.

There’s no sugar coating it: knee pain stinks. The good news is there are options available for those who are suffering. If your knee pain is disabling and alternative treatments haven’t worked, joint replacement surgery may be the best route for you.

Joint replacement success rates are very high. 80 percent of knee replacement patients report that all or almost all of their pain was gone within two years. Most people walk (with help) the day after surgery. Most replacements last at least 15 years and now include customized sizing for men and women.

When it comes to joint replacement surgery, timing is key. Living with chronic pain takes a toll on your body. Reduced activity means lost strength and endurance, both of which will affect your ability to recover from surgery. If you replace too soon, you may need another new knee later in life. If you wait too long, you might have a harder time returning to your normal activities. Talk to your doctor about if – and when – a knee replacement is right for you.

The choice to undergo knee replacement surgery is a decision you must make with your doctor. You want to make sure the timing is right, that you understand the potential risks, the alternatives to knee replacement, cost of knee replacement, preparation and recovery, and more. Be open with your doctor about your pain levels and frequency. Discuss how your pain affects day-to-day activities. If you can’t go up and down stairs or walk more than a block without pain, let your doctor know. Having an open and honest discussion will help you to get the best care possible.