Do you need knee replacement?
Knee replacement is usually a last resort measure to tackle chronic and acute knee pain. If you find that your knee pain gets in the way of even the simplest everyday activities, your knees are constantly stiff and all other kinds of treatment are having no effect, you and your doctor may together decide to try a replacement surgery. This kind of operation is usually reserved for patients above the age of 50 and who have severe osteoarthritis.
What does the operation itself involve?
Surgeries of this kind require either general anesthesia, which will render you unconscious for the procedure, or spinal/epidural anesthesia, which numbs everything from the waist down. Once the anesthesia takes effect, an 8-12 inch incision is made. Then the impaired part of the joint is removed from the surface of the bones. It is then shaped to hold a metal or plastic artificial joint, usually attached with cement or a special material. When set together, the attached artificial parts form the joint, using surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and function.
There are new medical procedures such as Minimally Invasive Knee Joint Replacement Surgery that use specialized techniques and instruments that require incisions of only 3-5 inches.This results in far less tissue damage as it allows the surgeon to work between the muscle fibers instead of requiring an incision through the tendon. For the patient, this usually means reduced pain, decreased recovery time and less scar tissue formation.
After a hospital stay of 2-3 days, the majority of knee joint replacement patients enjoy dramatic improvement in about a month after the surgery.
In fact, they are able to stand and move the joint the day after the operation.
At first, the help of parallel bars or a walking device such as crutches, walker, or cane may be required until the knee is able to support full body weight. After six weeks or so, with the help of some physiotherapy, most patients find that they are able to walk comfortably with minimal assistance.
As physical therapy continues, muscle strength increases and while caution is still required, patients can go back to enjoying most regular activities.
Is it for you?
There are several factors to consider before deciding to go for knee replacement – for yourself, or a loved one. Make sure to consult a trusted doctor, and assess the risks and advantages involved before making a decision.
And keep a lookout here for upcoming blogs on risks, medications and advantages of knee replacement surgery!