WHAT IS A TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT?
A total knee replacement entails the complete removal of the knee joint and the insertion of an artificial prosthesis, generally made of metal or plastic. In most cases, the arthritic ends of the femur and tibia are replaced with a plastic implant positioned between these bones and the patella.
CAUSES REQUIRING TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY
Knee replacement is usually a treatment for advanced arthritis, but other common causes include:
- Trauma (fracture)
- Increased stress (ie. from overuse)
- Connective tissue disorders
- Inactive lifestyle (ie. obesity, as additional weight puts extra force through your joints which can lead to arthritis over a period of time)
- Inflammation (ie. rheumatoid arthritis)
TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY
While total knee replacement surgery is an invasive procedure, your specialists at New York Bone and Joint will ensure that you’re well-prepared for the surgery. In the week before, you’ll receive a physical examination, undergo blood testing, and should cease taking any anti-inflammatory or herbal medications.
During the operation, your surgeon will make an incision to expose the bones of the knee joint and cut the damaged portions of the femur and tibia at the appropriate angles using specialized jigs. Your surgeon will then insert temporary prosthetics to ensure the accuracy of these cuts and determine what thickness of plastic should be placed in between these two components. After confirming the size and shape of the cuts, the surgeon will insert the actual prosthetics, which may require use of a cement to bind them to the bone. Once the artificial knee has been implanted, the surgeon will drain and seal the knee before dressing it in an appropriate bandage.
TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT RECOVERY TIME
Knee replacement surgery usually requires a short stay in the hospital, generally no longer than five to seven days. You’ll likely experience significant pain and swelling in the repaired knee, though your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate these symptoms. After you’ve been discharged, you’ll need the support of a walker or crutches for as long as six weeks, by which time most patients can begin to walk with a cane. You should be able to drive by this time, as well, enabling you to return to work.
Physical therapy will begin as soon as the day of the surgery, when your therapist will manually bend and straighten your knee. In the following weeks, you will work with a physical therapist to restore your range of motion, promote circulation, and rebuild surrounding muscles. Most patients regain their range of motion within two weeks of surgery, and most should be able to bend their knee at a ninety degree angle after six weeks. After ten months, you should be able to completely resume normal activities, though additional therapy might be needed to reinforce the knee’s load-bearing capabilities.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY?
Knee replacement can be a daunting prospect, but for patients who need it, it’s well worth pursuing. The surgery can dramatically improve your quality of life, eliminating the major symptoms of arthritis while providing a much more durable joint. While there can be some complications, including allergic reactions to medications, blood loss, and nerve damage, the procedure provides long-lasting relief from the debilitating pain that prevents so many arthritic patients from enjoying their lives. With ninety to ninety-five percent of total knee replacements lasting for at least fifteen years, it’s a proven treatment for anybody struggling with weakened knees.
If you are experiencing knee pain, there are many treatment options available that can get you back on track in no time. Book an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists here.
EXPERIENCING PAIN? DO YOU HAVE AN INJURY?
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