Medical Services – Medical Diseases & Conditions

Total Knee Replacement

Suffering from painful, inflexible knees? Conventional treatments failing to provide relief? If you’re over 50 and experiencing osteoarthritis-related intense knee pain, it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery.

Overview

What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee damaged by arthritis or injury. It involves replacing the damaged or diseased parts of the knee joint with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers. This procedure is typically recommended for individuals over 50 years old who are suffering from osteoarthritis and intense knee pain that is no longer managed effectively by other treatments.

The most common cause of knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Other conditions that can lead to knee damage and necessitate surgery include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Haemophilia
  • Gout
  • Knee injury
Osteoarthritis Illustration

Knee replacement surgery is a significant procedure typically recommended when other treatments, such as physiotherapy or steroid injections, have not effectively reduced pain or restored mobility.

Your surgeon may suggest knee replacement surgery if you:

  • Experience severe pain, swelling, and stiffness in your knee joint, leading to reduced mobility.
  • Find day-to-day activities challenging or impossible due to knee pain and stiffness.
  • Are unable to work or maintain a normal quality of life due to knee problems.

Who is a Candidate for Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery is typically considered for individuals who:

  1. Have severe knee pain or stiffness that limits daily activities.
  2. Experience knee pain even while resting.
  3. Have chronic knee inflammation and swelling that doesn’t improve with rest or medications.
  4. Have knee deformities, such as bowing in or out of the knee.
  5. Have limited relief from non-surgical treatments like medications, physical therapy, or injections.
  6. Are willing to commit to the recovery process, including physical therapy.
  7. Are in overall good health and do not have conditions that would impair healing.
  8. Have realistic expectations about the outcomes of the surgery.

Knee replacement surgery is often considered for adults, but it is typically more advisable for older individuals, as younger, more active people are at a higher risk of wearing out the joint.

Undergoing surgery earlier increases the likelihood of needing additional surgeries in the future. However, evidence suggests that replacing the knee joint before it becomes very stiff leads to better outcomes.

Most total knee replacements are performed on individuals between the ages of 60 and 80. It is essential to be in good health to manage both the major surgery and the rehabilitation process afterward.

Potential Risks

Most individuals do not experience complications but like any other surgery, there are risks involved:

  1. Wound infection
  2. Bleeding into the knee joint
  3. Nerve, artery or ligament damage in the region of the knee joint
  4. Blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
  5. Persistent knee pain
  6. Occasionally, the new knee joint is not perfectly stable and additional surgery is usually required to fix it.

The Procedure

On the day of your knee replacement surgery, you will be admitted to the hospital. Your surgeon and anesthetist will visit you to discuss the procedure and address any concerns you may have.

Knee replacement surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia or spinal/epidural anesthesia.

During the procedure, the damaged ends of the bones in your knee joint are removed and replaced with custom-made metal and plastic parts designed to fit your knee precisely.

The type of knee replacement surgery you receive—total or partial—depends on the extent of damage in your knee. Total knee replacements are more common than partial replacements.

Total Knee Replacement Procedure

During a total knee replacement, both knee joints are replaced, a process that typically takes 2 to 3 hours to complete.

Your surgeon will make an incision in front of your knee to expose the kneecap, which is then moved to the side to access the knee joint behind it.

Careful removal of the damaged ends of your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) follows. These ends are precisely measured and shaped to fit the custom-made prosthetic replacement. A test or dummy joint is inserted to ensure proper function. Adjustments are made as necessary, the bone ends are cleaned, and the final prosthesis is inserted.

The end of your thigh bone is replaced with a curved piece of metal, while the end of your shin bone is replaced with a flat metal plate. These components are secured using special bone cement or are designed to promote fusion between the replacement parts and your bone. A plastic spacer is placed between the metal pieces to act as a cartilage, reducing friction as your joint moves.

total-knee-replacement-illustration

The back of the kneecap might be replaced, based on the factors that promote replacement.

The wound is closed with stitches or clips and a dressing is applied to the wound.

In a few situations, a splint is employed to keep your leg immobile. However, you are advised to move your knee as soon as possible.

The replacement should last approximately 15 to 20 years.

Remember, you are still likely to have some trouble moving, specially bending your knee, and kneeling is possibly difficult due to the scar.

Recovery

After knee replacement surgery, your recovery will involve several stages, including:

  1. Hospital Stay: You will typically stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery, where you will receive pain management and begin physical therapy.

  2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is crucial for restoring strength and mobility to your knee. You will start therapy soon after surgery and continue it for several weeks or months.

  3. Pain Management: You will be prescribed pain medication to manage discomfort during the early stages of recovery.

  4. Mobility Aids: You may need to use crutches, a walker, or a cane to help you walk until your knee is strong enough to support your full weight.

  5. Home Care: You will need assistance at home during the initial recovery period. This may include help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

  6. Follow-Up Visits: You will have follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress and ensure that your knee is healing properly.

During your recovery from knee replacement surgery, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

Gradually increase your activity level as advised by your healthcare provider, but avoid high-impact activities that could stress your new knee joint. Follow your physical therapist’s instructions for exercises and rehabilitation to help restore strength and mobility. Take prescribed medications as directed for pain management and to prevent blood clots. Keep your surgical incision clean and dry to prevent infection. Eat a healthy diet to support healing and recovery. Allow your body to rest and recover between activities. Recovery from knee replacement surgery takes time, so be patient and follow your healthcare provider’s advice for the best outcome.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please email or contact us now.

Take the first step and reach out to us for a complimentary virtual consultation. Our virtual consultants and surgeons will provide personalized recommendations based on your unique needs. Every client is different, and we tailor each procedure to match your individual requirements.