What is a Total Knee Replacement?
Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure where the worn out surfaces of the knee are resurfaced with metal and plastic components. Over time, the cartilage cushioning the bones can wear away, cause pain and discomfort and make simple pleasures like walking and shopping unbearable. Knee replacement can reduce or eliminate pain, allow easier movement and get you back to normal life.
Who is a Candidate for a Knee Replacement?
Knee replacement surgery may be considered for those suffering from arthritic knee pain that severely limits the activities of daily living. It is only recommended after careful examination and diagnosis of your particular joint problem, and only after more conservative measures such as exercise, physical therapy and medications have proven to be ineffective.
Joint replacement surgery has evolved over the past decade, and many patients are able to undergo knee replacement in an outpatient surgery setting. Your doctor’s office will work with your insurance provider to determine the most appropriate setting for you. If it is determined that you need to stay in the hospital following this procedure, you may only need to stay 1-2 days.
What Kind of Knee Implant is Best?
There are many kinds and designs of knee implants available today, and no one design or type is best for every patient. Surgeons select the implant they believe is best for their patient’s needs based on factors including age, activity level, the implant’s track record and his or her comfort with the instruments associated with the particular implant. If you have specific questions regarding implants, your surgeon will be happy to answer them.
How Long is the Recovery Period?
Recovery can vary from person to person, but most people will need to use an ambulation aid such as a walker for 4 weeks or so. Driving may be possible in 3 to 4 weeks, and activities such as golf and bowling can be resumed in as few as 10 to 12 weeks. Some activities such as singles tennis and skiing are not recommended after knee replacement.
Most people will be in the hospital 2-3 days, though some patients, particularly those who live alone, may need to spend a few days at a rehabilitation center or nursing home.
How Successful is Knee Replacement?
Total knee replacement is recognized as one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. In the United States, over 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year. Most patients opting for a total knee replacement found improvement in pain, functional status and an overall quality of life.
What are the Risks?
Even though knee replacement surgery is considered a successful procedure, it is major surgery, and as with any surgery, there are risks. Possible complications include: Blood clots in your leg veins, Infection, implant loosening, fractures, nerve or blood vessel damage and knee stiffness. Your surgeon and healthcare team will take great care to minimize the risk of these and other complications. Keep in mind complications are relatively rare, but they need to be understood by you and your family. Your surgeon will be happy to answer any questions.