Knee replacement surgery is also called knee arthroplasty. In this surgery, all or some of your damaged joint (cartilage and bone) gets replaced with a prosthetic joint (made of metal and plastic). This surgery is performed to help ease pain and make the knee function in a better way. If a patient has a serious knee injury or severe arthritis, this surgery might be considered.
Anatomy of the knee joint
The knee is the largest joint in the human body and bears the weight of the entire body. It comprises the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). Articular cartilage, a smooth substance that protects and permits easy movement of the bones within the joint, covers the ends of these three bones.
Additionally, the menisci (C-shaped wedges) are located between the femur and tibia which act as shock absorbers to cushion the joint. The femur and tibia are held together by large ligaments that provide stability and give strength to the knees. The synovial membrane covers the remaining surface of the knee and releases the synovial fluid which lubricates the cartilage, reducing friction totally in a healthy knee. Normally, all these components work in tandem. But disease or an injury can disrupt their harmonious synchronization to produce movement, resulting in pain, muscle weakness, and reduced function.
Reasons to undergo knee replacement
By far, arthritis is the most common cause of knee pain and disability. Most knee pains are attributed to the following three types of arthritis:
1. Osteoarthritis: This type of arthritis usually happens due to wear and tear of the knee joint. It occurs mostly in people above the age of 50 years, though younger individuals can also fall prey to it. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions the bones of the knees becomes soft and wears away. As a result of this, the bones rub against each other, causing knee pain and stiffness.
2. Rheumatoid arthritis: In this condition, the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint, becomes thick and inflamed. Eventually, the cartilage gets damaged over time and as a result, there is cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness.
3. Post-traumatic arthritis: This condition is usually the result of a serious knee injury. If there is a fracture in the bone surrounding the knee or tears in the knee ligaments, the articular cartilage also gets damaged in due course of time, resulting in pain in the knees and limited knee function.
Procedure for knee replacement
A. Before the procedure:
· Once you check in for your surgery, you will be asked to remove your clothes and change into a hospital gown instead.
· A spinal block (numbs the lower part of your body) or general anesthesia may be administered before the start of the surgery.
B. During the procedure:
· An incision (cut) is made over the knee.
· The diseased and damaged bone and cartilage are removed, leaving healthy bone in place.
· The replacement parts are implanted into the thigh bone, shin bone, and knee cap.
C. After the procedure:
· Using crutches or a walker, you will be asked to sit up and walk soon after surgery.
· You might have to wear elastic compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves on your lower legs. These aids keep blood from pooling in the leg veins, lessening the chances of clot formation.
· Sometimes, your surgeon may prescribe blood thinners to reduce your overall risk of blood clots.
Home care measures
Once you are discharged from the hospital and allowed to go back home, you will be asked to ensure that your house is safe for you so that it helps to make the recovery process faster. Here are certain modifications that you can bring about in your home environment to facilitate recovery:
· Proper handrails along all stairs for support
· Safety handrails in the bath or shower
· Raised toilet seat, along with shower bench or chair
· Reaching stick to grab objects at a higher level
· Removal of loose carpets and electrical cords that can cause trips and falls
Risks of the procedure
As with any other surgical procedure, knee replacement surgery may also entail certain complications. These may include the following:
· Blood clots in the legs or lungs
· Loosening or wear and tear of the implant
· Continued pain or stiffness
In a nutshell, knee replacement surgery restores mobility and relieves the individual of undue pain. Recovery after the surgery requires adequate rest and once your surgeon permits you, you may once again engage in low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, biking, or golfing. However, you should avoid higher impact activities such as jogging and sports even after full recovery. Most knee replacements are expected to last for 15 to 20 years. This surgery indeed is a blessing in disguise for those facing knee pain and restricted mobility.
At KM NU Hospitals located at Ambur, Tamil Nadu, you get the best medical attention to your orthopedic problems such as knee pain. KM NU is the ideal hospital in Ambur that offers advanced treatments such as knee replacement surgery. Having the latest medical equipment and state-of-the-art facilities, this place is a top-notch choice for those seeking relief from knee pain.
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2. Knee replacement. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/knee-replacement/about/pac-20385276.
3. Knee Replacement Surgery Procedure. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/knee-replacement-surgery-procedure#:~:text=Knee%20replacement%20surgery%20is%20a,movement%20and%20may%20cause%20pain.
4. Total Knee Replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-knee-replacement/.
Author: Dr. Tahir Ahmed