|Total knee replacement surgery provides relief for patients with severe pain caused by degeneration of the cartilage in the knee, advanced arthritis, or serious knee injuries. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of all total knee replacement operations performed are successful for approximately 10 to 15 years, depending on the patient's level of activity, after which time revision surgery may be recommended by the doctor.|
What causes pain in the knees? Degenerative changes or injury can cause damage to some of the structures in the knee, causing pain and discomfort, and limiting normal activities. One of these conditions, called osteoarthritis, causes the cartilage that normally helps to cushion the bones to wear down, making the bones rub together, which causes pain. Other conditions that may lead to total knee replacement surgery are rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis. Your doctor may try to reduce your discomfort with pain medication, weight management and physical therapy, but total knee replacement may be recommended if these remedies are unsuccessful.
What are the benefits of knee replacement surgery? Knee conditions restrict patients' activities of daily living due to pain and limited mobility. A benefit of knee replacement surgery is that it may be able to help patients resume a normal lifestyle. However, depending on the patient's underlying condition and overlying health, the patient may never be without pain, even after knee replacement surgery.
What are the risks associated with a knee replacement surgery? While knee replacement surgery is a safe treatment, there are risks that are possible with any surgery. For total knee replacement, they include:
- Infection in the artificial joint
- Neurovascular (i.e., nerve and/or blood vessels) damage
- Wear and tear of prosthesis (i.e., the knee implant device) due to heavy use
- Stiffness of the knee if scar tissue develops
- Complications involving the lungs, heart, gastrointestinal, or neurological system
- Failure to relieve knee pain
- Loss of the leg due to blood clots
Knee replacement surgery is nearly always a successful procedure, but patients should carefully consider any risks and weigh them carefully before deciding to have surgery.
What happens during a knee replacement surgery? The surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone in the knee, and covering it with a combination of metal and plastic to form a new surface of the joint and to repair loss of bone structure or ligament support.
What happens after a knee replacement surgery? Medicines may be prescribed by your surgeon to help prevent blood clots after surgery. Your surgeon and physical therapist will also discuss movement guidelines for you following surgery.
How long does it take to recover from a knee replacement surgery? The vast majority of patients who undergo total knee surgery have dramatic improvement within weeks of the surgery. The pain caused by the damaged knee is relieved when a new gliding surface is constructed. Patients who have knee replacement surgery are standing and moving the joint the day after surgery. After about six weeks most patients are walking comfortably with minimal support. After muscle strength is restored, patients who have knee replacement surgery can enjoy most activities (except running and jumping).
What is the rehabilitation process after a knee replacement surgery? Rehabilitation begins immediately following surgery and may include a machine to help move your leg in the first few days after surgery. The success of the replacement and recovery is contingent on the patient and their participation in the rehabilitation process. This process requires a lot of time, effort, and a positive attitude to ensure success.
Before you leave the hospital, a physiotherapist will provide goals and instructions for you to complete while in the hospital and at home. It is recommended that you follow the instructions for a minimum of two months following surgery. At that time, you should ask your doctor when you may resume your previous activities.