Knee joint replacement
Image credit: @user5117301, Freepik
What is a knee replacement?
Knee replacement is surgery to replace parts of the knee joint with new artificial parts. You may need a knee replacement if you have an injury that causes severe pain and difficulty doing daily activities, such as walking and climbing stairs. The goal of a knee replacement is to relieve pain and help you move better.
People of all ages can have a knee replacement, but it is more common in older people. The decision to have surgery depends on your overall health and how bothersome your knee is.
What problems does knee replacement treat?
Knee replacement surgery treats conditions that cause the cartilage in the knee joint to wear down. These include:
Knee osteoarthritis: The most common reason for knee replacement surgery. Usually develops over time after injury or aging
Knee damage from other types of arthritis
Problems of the knee joints that did not form correctly
What happens during a knee replacement?
During surgery, a surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from the surface of the knee joint. Cartilage is the tissue that covers the bones where they meet. Healthy cartilage is smooth and helps bones glide over each other. However, when the cartilage becomes rough and wears down, the bones rub against each other, causing pain.
After removing the damaged cartilage and bone from the knee, the surgeon places the artificial parts on the bones. The synthetic components are metal and plastic, giving your knee new, smooth surfaces.
Knee replacement surgery can replace all of the damaged parts of your knee (total knee replacement) or just part of your knee (partial knee replacement). In a total knee replacement, the surgeon replaces three surfaces:
At the end of the warm
The end of the femur
The back of the patella
What happens after knee replacement surgery?
Some people go home on the same day as the surgery. Others stay in the hospital for a few days. To help prevent blood clots, you will most likely take blood thinners and wear special stockings or leg coverings for a short time after your operation.
Your surgery depends on what you do at home to recover. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your knee. You may need to use a cane or walker for several weeks after the operation. Your healthcare professional will tell you when you can start driving.
People who follow recovery instructions can return to most of their normal daily activities within 3 to 6 weeks after surgery.
What is life like after a knee replacement?
After recovering from surgery, most people can move better and with less pain than before surgery. But having an artificial knee is not the same as having a normal, healthy knee.
To protect your new knee, you should:
Keep a healthy weight
Get regular physical activity
Avoid high-impact activities, such as jogging, running, and jumping. Instead, you can try low-impact activities that are good for your knee, such as walking, biking, and swimming.
What are the risks of knee replacement?
The chance of having problems after a knee replacement is low. But there are risks after any operation. Possible problems after knee replacement surgery include:
Scars that limit how far you can bend your knee
Your age, general health, and activity level can affect your risk of having a problem after knee replacement.
How long does a knee replacement last?
A knee replacement does not last forever. After 15 to 20 years, the artificial parts of the knee may become loose or wear out. If that happens, you may need another surgery on the same knee.
If you're considering a knee replacement, talk to your healthcare professional about its risks and benefits. Together you can decide if a knee replacement is suitable for you.