Why is knee replacement surgery done?
Knee replacement surgery is the most common joint replacement surgery performed today. It is most often done to replace a knee joint that has suffered severe wear and tear as a result of arthritis, a condition in which inflammation destroys the joint surfaces, resulting in pain and decreased mobility. Sometimes trauma results in the need to have a knee joint replaced.
Who should have knee replacement surgery?
The decision to undergo knee replacement surgery is generally made when a patient has pain and stiffness resulting in decreased mobility and all other treatment options have failed. Other treatment options include pain control with medication and physiotherapy.
How is knee replacement surgery done?
Patients who are undergoing knee replacement surgery may be required to go through a preoperative assessment. Joints above and below the knee will be examined, as poor joint function in a hip or ankle on the affected side may decrease the chance of a successful outcome. Routine blood tests, a chest x-ray and an EKG are often ordered and medications are reviewed. Certain medications, such as blood thinners (aspirin, Coumadin) will need to be stopped prior to surgery to decrease the risk of bleeding during the operation. Your physician will advise you on how to take your medications prior to surgery.
During the knee replacement surgery, the end of your femur (the long bone in your thigh) will be replaced by a metal shell, while the end of your tibia (one of the two long bones in your lower leg) will be replaced with an artificial plastic shell that has an attached stem. Your kneecap may be replaced by a plastic part that resembles your own kneecap. These artificial parts will articulate together to form your new knee. If your ligaments supporting your knee have also been damaged they may be replaced, or they may be preserved if they are still healthy and functional.
What are the possible complications of knee replacement surgery?
Complications may include blood clots, chronic knee pain and stiffness, infection, nerve damage and damage to blood vessels. Anesthesia carries its own risks. Your physician will carefully explain all the potential risks of knee replacement surgery to you, as well as the expected benefits. You should ask questions to clarify any parts you dont understand.
How long will it take to recover from knee replacement surgery?
Physical therapy will begin within 48 hours after surgery and will continue even after you have been discharged home. It is vey important that you cooperate fully with any prescribed activities and exercises to achieve the best outcome. Your pain will be controlled with pain medications. You will need to use a mobility aid such as a walker or crutches for awhile after your surgery. Most people recover fully within weeks after their knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure done to improve pain and functioning in knees affected by arthritis or trauma. It is important to carefully review any information on knee replacement surgery you are given and clarify any questions you may have with your physician prior to surgery. In this way, you will be physically and mentally prepared for your surgery and will be able to participate fully in your recovery.
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