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What is knee replacement surgery?
Knee Joint replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty or total knee replacement, is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee that is damaged by arthritis.
In such surgery, metal and plastic parts are used to cap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint, along with the kneecap. People who have severe arthritis or a severe knee injury are considered to undergo this surgery.
Most common causes of knee pain:
Among the common reasons, several types of arthritis may affect the knee joint as well.
- Osteoarthritis: is a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: is another type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the knee joint and leads to pain and stiffness.
- Traumatic Arthritis: arthritis due to injury which causes damage to the cartilage of the knee.
When is knee replacement surgery recommended?
If medical treatments are not helping relieve the pain and discomfort, knee joint replacement surgery is proven to be an effective alternative treatment. Medical treatments for the degenerative joint disease can include (but are not limited to), the following:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Pain medications
- Avoiding painful activities
- Assistive devices for walking (such as a cane)
- Physical therapy
- Viscosupplementation injections (it is a process to add lubrication into the joint to make joint movement less painful)
- Weight loss
The ultimate purpose of knee replacement surgery is to resurface the damaged parts of the knee joint and to relieve knee pain that is not manageable by other treatments such as physiotherapy.
Who can get knee replacement surgery?
Although knee replacement surgery is more common in people above 55 years of age, it can be successfully performed in people of all ages. The orthopedic surgeons evaluate patients on an individual basis and determine if knee replacement surgery is the right treatment to go with.
What is the procedure for knee joint replacement?
The procedure begins with the evaluation of the patient to determine the extent of damage to the knee with the help of certain diagnostic tests. The doctor will also evaluate your overall health and medical history. It is also important to let the doctor know about any medicines you are currently taking.
Below are some of the tests that you may undergo before the knee replacement surgery
- Complete medical history evaluation
- Complete physical examination.
- Blood tests, X-rays, or other diagnostic tests.
- Allergies discussion to ensure if you are allergic to any specific medicine, tape, latex.
- Any medicines you are already taking
The procedure for knee joint replacement typically lasts for 1-2 hours is performed in the following steps:
- You will be administered anesthesia to put you to sleep or numb you from the waist down
- The orthopedic surgeon will make an incision above your knee of about 6-10 inches long
- The damaged cartilage and bone is removed
- It is replaced with a prosthesis or artificial knee joint made of metal, plastic, or polymer
- The surgical cut is then closed with the help of stitches
After the knee replacement surgery, you will need to stay at the hospital while your health and recovery are closely monitored. You may be asked to take painkillers to help reduce your pain. You may also experience stiffness in your leg. The doctor may also prescribe blood clotting medication to you based on your condition.
Physical therapy is essential after surgery to aid your recovery. It can begin as early as the day of the surgery or the next day.
How long do knee joint replacements last?
Studies show that knee joint replacements can last lifelong in 90% of patients.