The knee is one of the strongest and most important joints of your body. Not only do knees allow movements of legs, but also carry our weight. Despite their strength and importance, knees are prone to injuries and conditions such as osteoarthritis. Sometimes, other treatments don’t work, and the patient needs a total knee replacement. Below, you’re going to learn more about this procedure.
What is total knee replacement?
Total knee arthroplasty, or total knee replacement, is a type of orthopedic surgery whose main objective is to replace the articular surfaces of the knee joint with smooth metal and highly cross-linked polyethylene plastic. In other words, diseased joint is replaced by artificial materials. The goal here is to improve a patient’s quality of life.
Alongside hip replacement surgery, total knee arthroplasty is one of the most commonly performed orthopedic procedures. About one million knee and hip replacement procedures are performed each year. Moreover, estimates show the number of knee placement surgeries will jump by 673% by 2030. In other words, 3.5 million surgeries are expected to be performed each year.
Who needs total knee replacement?
Total knee replacement is usually recommended to patients whose knees have been severely damaged by osteoarthritis, trauma, or some rare destructive diseases affecting this joint. Severe osteoarthritis is the most common cause of total knee replacement in the U.S.
The surgery doesn’t have age or weight restrictions. Doctors recommend the procedure based on the patient’s pain and severity of the condition, not their weight or age. Most patients who undergo this procedure are between 50 and 80 years of age. Total knee replacement proved to be effective for younger patients too, e.g., teenagers with juvenile arthritis.
What happens during total knee replacement?
The procedure takes from one to two hours. During the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon removes the end of femur bone and cartilage. Then, they position the new metal and plastic implants. For example, the removed end of the femur bone is replaced by a metal shell. Additionally, the surgeon also removes the end of the tibia (lower leg bone) and replaces it with a plastic piece featuring a metal stem. This is done to restore the alignment and function of the knee.
In a total knee replacement, the posterior cruciate ligament is retained, sacrificed, or substitute by a polyethylene post. The surgeon determines the best approach based on the needs of each patient. Reminder; posterior cruciate ligament stabilizes each side of the knee joint.
Recovery after total knee replacement
After the procedure, the passage of urine can be difficult. It’s also normal to experience pain. To alleviate pain, patients need to take medications that can further aggravate the urination-related problem. Until a patient becomes more mobile, they will have a catheter to allow passage of urine.
Physiotherapy is the crucial component of a recovery process. Most patients begin with their physiotherapy during the inpatient stay, within 24 hours post-op. Physical therapy focuses on exercises that improve strength and range of motion. Patients will also need to perform exercises at home after being discharged from the hospital.
It may take up to 12 months to regain all your strength.
Benefits of total knee replacement
- Pain relief
- Improved mobility
- Better quality of life
- Better overall health due to increased physical activity levels
- Low rate of complications
Risks of total knee replacement
- It may not eliminate discomfort entirely
- Replaced joints may wear out
- Difficulties with some movements
Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure that removes diseased and damaged knee structures and replaces them with metal and plastic pieces. Patients with a severe form of osteoarthritis may need this surgery, but it is also performed in cases of trauma or other problems. Recovery is relatively long, and physiotherapy is crucial.