Many factors go into the decision whether or not to have joint surgery, but diagnosis falls into two main categories: looking at the physical damage to your joint and talking about your quality of life.
If your joints are damaged, your doctor will be able to see it in x-rays.
If you are constantly in pain or have trouble getting around—regardless of what the x-ray shows—you may still be a good candidate for surgery.
Typically, severe pain during activities such as walking or getting up from a chair; pain that prevents you from doing normal, everyday activities; or pain at night that prevents you from sleeping, are all excellent reasons to talk to your doctor about joint replacement.
If your doctor recommends a program of physical therapy or exercise instead of joint replacement surgery, your therapist will periodically assess your mobility. A change in mobility may signal that it is time to revisit the possibility of a surgical solution.