Sometimes called knee arthroplasty, a total knee replacement is a surgery performed under general anesthesia. Techniques can vary, but most surgeons start by removing the ends of the thigh and shin bone. Your surgeon then removes the knee-cap and attaches the artificial knee joint.
The composition of the artificial knee can vary slightly. But, they are typically manufactured using metal alloys, ceramics, and plastics. Metal alloys construct the replacement. Ceramics and medical-grade plastics are used to cushion the metal heads and re-create the patellar surface.
For knee replacement needs, your best option is Dr. Stein. He is a top orthopedic surgeon in Washington DC. With countless successful replacement surgeries, you can be sure you’re in good hands.
What Conditions May Require Knee Replacement?
In most cases, arthritis is the root cause. In some cases, physical trauma may inflict enough damage to make a total knee replacement necessary. But this is less common. However, even arthritis patients may not be immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
A total knee replacement is typically only performed if other, less invasive, procedures have already failed. Your doctor will most likely start by asking you to make lifestyle changes. This is especially true if your weight is putting too much pressure on the joint. Additionally, they may start you on medication to treat the underlying cause of your pain or stiffness. Injections and strength-building exercises are also common treatments for knee pain.
Who Are Good Candidates for Knee Replacement?
Total knee replacements are usually reserved for patients who are suffering from extreme pain and severely limited mobility. Complications occur in fewer than 2% of cases. But risks are higher for the elderly and obese. If you are in reasonably good health, your doctor will likely leave the final decision in your hands.
Unfortunately, total knee replacements generally only last 15 to 25 years. So, you will want to discuss the process with your doctor. Consider if you will need to have the surgery re-done when you’re elderly. It may be worth waiting a few years, depending on your level of pain and immobility.
However, waiting too long can make recovery more difficult. Timing a knee replacement is a balancing act. It will require an ongoing discussion between you, your primary care physician, and your surgeon.
What is Recovery From Knee Replacement Surgery Like?
Even in the best-case scenario, recovering from a total knee replacement isn’t an easy task. Dr. Benjamin Stein warns patients that they will require a walker or crutches for the first few weeks after total knee replacement surgery. You should consider installing handles and bars in your home to make it more accessible during your recovery period. Once you’ve healed enough, you will start physical therapy.
The difficulty of physical therapy will depend on how much the surrounding muscles have weakened due to reduced usage. But, patients can typically expect recovery in 3 to 6 months. It will be crucial to follow their surgeon’s instructions and be persistent in their physical therapy. In older patients or those with illness, recovery can take about a year.
The Good News
Fortunately, the post-operative statistics for total knee replacements are promising. Harvard Health reports that more than 80% of patients notice a significant reduction in pain after surgery. You will also see an increase in mobility as the new joint heals. For many, a total knee replacement is a new lease on life that really does mean the world.