Knee replacement surgery helps relieve discomfort and restore function to a damaged knee. The majority of patients who require surgery have advanced knee arthritis. In this condition, the cartilage in the knee has worn away, and the surface has become pitted, degraded, and uneven. Pain, stiffness, instability, and a shift in body alignment are symptoms of this condition. Other causes include knee injury, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.
Why is Surgery needed?
The most common reason why knee replacement surgery is required is osteoarthritis. An orthopedic surgeon runs tests that evaluate your knee’s range of motion, strength, and stability to see if surgery is correct for you. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system of the body assaults and destroys the lining of the knee. Bowed legs are common deformities that require surgery to correct. Knee injuries that cause a broken bone or damaged ligaments surrounding the knee can lead to arthritis, which is painful and restricts movement.
Different types of knee replacement surgery
Total knee replacement – The deteriorated surfaces of the thigh and shin bones attached to the knee are replaced.
Partial knee replacement – Only a portion of the knee is replaced to maintain as much of the existing healthy bone and soft tissue. Many candidates for this surgery have osteoarthritis in only one area of their knee.
How does knee replacement work?
The end of the thigh bone is replaced & removed with a metal casing. Also taken out is the tibia, which is replaced with a channeled plastic part with a metal stem. A plastic “button” might be inserted under the surface of the kneecap, depending on the condition of the kneecap around the knee joint. The prosthesis means artificial components of a total knee replacement. The posterior cruciate ligament will stabilize either side of the knee joint. It prevents the lower limb from sliding backward to the thighbone. This ligament is preserved, removed, or replaced with a polyethylene post in entire knee replacement surgery. All these total knee replacements have its stack of pros and cons.
Knee replacement surgery requires pre-operative planning, medical consultations, and physical tests typically begin a month before the scheduled surgery. Checking blood counts looking at how blood clots, electrocardiograms (ECGs), and urine testing are all examples of preparatory and diagnostic procedures.
A general, epidural, or spinal anesthesia is commonly used for this type of surgery. To put it simply, the operation involves cutting damaged bone & cartilage from your femur bone, kneecap, & shinbone and replacing it with an artificial joint consisting of metal alloys, polymers, high-grade resins.
For one to two hours, you’ll be kept in a recovery room. Age, complexity, and other specific needs determine the length of the patient’s stay after the surgery. Your doctor will discharge you after running some basic tests and monitoring the risks. Pain should be managed with the help of medications prescribed. You’ll be encouraged to exercise your foot and ankle, which helps avoid swelling and blood clots by increasing blood flow to your leg muscles. To avoid swelling and clotting, you’ll probably be given blood thinners. A physiotherapist will show you how to exercise to gain strength and stability. You’ll continue physical therapy at home or a center after you leave the hospital.
Carry out your workouts regularly, as directed. Follow all medication, wound care, nutrition, and exercise guidelines your doctor gives for the best results.
- At least for the first two weeks, avoid bending down and lifting heavy objects.
- Do not stand for long periods because your ankles may swell.
- Use crutches, a walking stick, or a walker until your knee is strong enough to support your weight.
- Only do exercises suggested by the physiotherapist.
- Keep the injured leg elevated.
- Do not bathe the wound until the scar heals.
As you are in recovery, a fall should be avoided at all costs. You can take active measures to avoid damage and surgery. Use a sturdy, nonslip chair in the shower or bath. Ensure that there is a secure handrail. Use a walker or cane for balance. Most patients can return to normal activities six weeks following surgery, although discomfort and swelling may persist for up to three months,
- Nerve damage that leads to numbness or weakness
- Blood clots in the veins of the leg i.e., deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or lungs i.e., pulmonary embolism
- Stroke or heart attack
- Continued pain
Knee replacement surgery over the years has advanced and become increasingly safe. Consult your surgeon to discover what course of treatment is most appropriate for your needs. The bottom line is that with a dedicated team of medical professionals and the proper guidance from them, you will be able to live a healthier life. With medical science advancing every day, there are several options to combat arthritis and mechanical injuries to the knee. Always discuss with your surgeon if there are other alternatives to surgery.