What is knee replacement?
It is a metal and plastic covering for raw, arthritic bone ends. It replaces the cartilage that has worn away over the years. Knee replacement can help relieve pain and get you back to enjoying normal, everyday activities. For those who have become bow-legged or knock-kneed over the years, it can also straighten the legs into a more natural position.
Who should have a knee replacement?
When severe pain limits your everyday activities such as walking, going up and down stairs and getting in and out of chairs, you may want to consider knee replacement surgery. Other reasons you may benefit from surgery is if you have moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night, swelling of the knee that does not improve with rest or medication, bowing in or out of your knee, or the inability to bend and straighten your knee.
Is there an alternative to replacement?
Knee replacement surgery may be recommended after careful diagnosis of your joint problem. Other treatment options including medications, injections, physical therapy, or other types of surgery may be discussed and considered. Your orthopedic specialist will decide if you are a candidate for the surgery. This will be based on your history, exam, x-rays and reponse to conservative treatment. The decision will then be yours.
Am I too old for this surgery?
Age is not a problem if you are in reasonable health and have the desire to continue living a productive, active life. You may be asked to see your personal physician for his/her opinion about your general health and readiness for surgery.
How long is the hospital stay?
After knee replacement surgery, you will probably spend one to three nights in the hospital. Walking and knee movement are important to your recovery and will begin the day after surgery. It is important to begin moving after surgery to get your blood flowing. This helps prevent blood clots and swelling from forming in your legs, which can occur from lack of activity.
How long is recuperation?
Recovery varies with each person. It is essential that you follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions regarding home care during the first few weeks after surgery, especially the exercise program you are prescribed. You’ll most likely need crutches or a walker for three to six weeks, and then a cane for another three to six weeks. Many individuals are able to resume most normal light activities of daily living, including driving, within three to six weeks following surgery. Some discomfort with activity, and at night, is common for several weeks. Complete recovery can take from about three to six months. Keep in mind that healing and recovery times vary with each person.
While most people will gradually increase activities that may include recreational walking and biking, swimming, golf and ballroom dancing, you will be advised to avoid more active sports such as jogging, tennis, high impact aerobics, skiing, reptitive lifting exceeding 50 pounds and contact sports.
What is the success rate?
Knee repalcement is one of the most important orthopedic surgical advances of this century. Each year, almost 266,000 Americans undergo knee replacement surgery that often helps them get back on their feet and resume active lifestyles. About 90-95 percent of patients achieve good to excellent results with relief of discomfort and significantly increased activity and mobility.
Are there complications?
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications after knee replacement surgery. However, they are quite low. Blood clots are the most common complication after surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon may prescribe one or more measures to prevent blood clots from forming in your leg veins, such as special support hose, inflatable leg coverings and blood thinners. You may also receive antibiotics to help prevent infection.