The knee is the largest joint in the body and as such, undergoes a lot of stress. Whether it’s from wear and tear, an injury, carrying too much weight or degenerative joint disease, there is a good chance you or someone you know will be one of the more than 500,000 people each year who undergo a knee replacement procedure. If your knees are starting to bear the brunt of the pain and aren’t what they used to be, your orthopedist may recommend knee replacement surgery. Not to worry, though, these procedures have become so technically efficient and effective than you likely will go from feeling burdened to bionic in a matter of weeks. If you believe knee replacement surgery could be in your future, here’s what you need to know.
Reasons for Replacement
The most common reasons for a knee replacement surgery – also known as knee arthroplasty – are pain and disability. The bone-on-bone grinding due to the breakdown of cartilage that causes osteoarthritis; as well as the inflammation of the joint linings and synovial fluid that is a result of rheumatoid arthritis are common reasons for knee replacement. Tears, excessive scar tissue, old injuries that healed poorly and fractures are just even more reasons. The bottom line, when pain management, physical therapy, and other treatments are not enough to return your knee to full functionality, you may be a good candidate for knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery involves replacing your damaged knee joint with an artificial one. This in-patient procedure, which requires general or spinal anesthesia, involves your orthopedic surgeon making a six- to twelve-inch incision next to your kneecap to access your joint. Once there he will proceed to remove any damaged cartilage, bone and tissue to make space for your new artificial joint. Whichever type of joint your surgeon selects for you (most are made of combinations of metal and plastic) depends on your level of activity, weight, age, and health. Expect your hospital stay to last two to three days, during which you likely will be administered pain medication, as well as medications to prevent blood clots, infection and inflammation.
Following surgery, expect your leg to remain elevated and you will be asked to try and move your foot and ankle to get blood pumping; you may also be wearing compression stockings or find yourself hooked up to a Continuous Passive Motion machine, which gently squeezes your legs to help with circulation and decrease swelling. While in hospital it’s likely you will begin a physical therapy routine, starting simply enough with standing and maintaining balance. You may also speak to an occupational therapist to answer any questions about how to go about simple daily tasks, such as maneuvering in the bathroom or using a scooter or walker to be mobile. Once home you will continue your physical therapy as you continue to mend under the watchful eye of your orthopedist.
Knee Replacement in the Palm Beaches
If you are living with knee pain and have exhausted more conservative approaches to resolve it, it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery. At Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches, our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians are renowned for their expertise in the full spectrum of bone, muscle, and joint conditions and orthopedic medicine. If you have knee or any joint pain and are seeking the best treatment to keep you moving pain-free, contact Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches today at (561) 733-5888 or request an appointment online to get real personalized care and a long-term plan to suit your orthopedic needs.