Total Knee Replacement Hospital
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of knee arthritis and can result in significant pain and disability. Symptoms are often worse with weight-bearing, and in advanced cases, even daily activities can become a challenge.
When movement and pain levels become too significant, knee replacement surgery may be an option.
What is a knee replacement?
Over 90 percent of people who undergo knee replacement surgery say it improves their pain.
There are different types of knee replacements. Options include:
- total knee replacement: the whole knee is replaced
- partial knee replacement: only the affected part of the knee is replaced
- bilateral knee replacement: both knees are replaced at the same time
In most cases, people have knee replacement surgery because they have OA. Total knee replacement is a very commonly performed operation.
What happens during the procedure?
Most knee replacement surgery is performed under a combination of general anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, and spinal (epidural) anesthesia. You will also receive at least one dose of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove bone and diseased cartilage from where your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) meet at your knee joint.
Those surfaces are then replaced with a metal implant. A piece of special plastic is normally used to replace the backside of the kneecap and finally, this same plastic material is placed in between the two metal parts.
This gives both bones of your knee joint smooth surfaces again so they can flex and bend more freely and painlessly.
Total knee replacement recovery
Most of your recovery and rehabilitation will be at home after you leave the hospital. Some people need home health care or assistance.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe physical therapy at a local clinic for continued rehabilitation. The physical therapist at this clinic will suggest exercises you can do at home.
Everyone recovers differently, but most people are allowed to return to driving by the end of 4 weeks.
It may be a good idea to prepare your home for your return before having surgery.
Exercise plays a key role in preventing knee damage, supporting the knee during treatment, and recovery.
Exercise can help prevent joint damage by:
- strengthening the muscles around the knee
- helping you maintain a healthy weight
This is true both before and after surgery, whether for the natural or the artificial knee.
Chronic pain and mobility issues can increase the risk of social isolation. Joining an exercise class may be a good way to connect with other people, some of whom may have similar health issues.
Physical activity can also help you feel good and reduce the risk of anxiety and depression.
Guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation strongly recommend exercise for managing OA of the knee.
Activities that may prove useful include:
- strengthening exercises
- water exercise
- tai chi
Alongside exercise, weight is crucial for managing OA of the knee
After a knee replacement, your physiotherapist will most likely have an exercise protocol for you to follow.
This will include getting back on your feet as soon as possible after surgery and walking a little farther every day.
These exercises will help strengthen your knee and speed up your healing.
It is important to follow instructions carefully so that your recovery stays on track. It will help you return to your normal daily activities as quickly as possible.
It will also help you establish a routine that can support your health on an ongoing basis.
All surgery can involve complications. After knee replacement surgery, there may be a risk of:
- blood clots
- continuing pain, even when surgery is successful
Most people don’t experience severe complications and are very happy that they had their knee replaced. The healthcare team will work with you to ensure the risks are as low as possible.
Who should consider knee surgery?
Osteoarthritis is a very common reason that people have knee surgery but surgery may also be needed in people with:
- a knee injury such as a ligament tear or meniscus tear
- a knee deformity that they were born with
- rheumatoid arthritis
Most people with knee pain do not ever require surgery and can be treated non-operatively. Your doctor may suggest:
- losing weight
- getting more exercise or following a specific exercise plan
- using over-the-counter or other medications
Making the decision
The doctor may carry out some tests to see if you need surgery, and you will have a chance to ask questions.
In most cases, a total knee replacement reduces pain and improves mobility. However, surgery can be costly, it can take several weeks or months to recover, and there is a small risk of complications.
Partial knee replacement
In a partial knee replacement, the surgeon only replaces the part of your knee that is damaged.
Compared with a total knee replacement, this procedure has the following advantages:
- It needs a smaller incision.
- There is less loss of bone and blood.
- Recovery is usually faster and less painful.
However, if you have a partial knee replacement, you may need additional surgery in the future if arthritis develops in the parts of the knee that aren’t replaced.
Bilateral knee replacement
In bilateral or double knee replacement surgery, the surgeon replaces both knees at the same time.
If you have OA in both knees, this can be a good option, as it means you only have to go through the procedure and recovery process once.
However, rehabilitation will probably take longer and you will likely need much more help during recovery.
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