Total Knee Replacement

What is total knee replacement?

Total knee replacement is a surgical operation that was first used in 1989. It is used to treat damaged, inflamed and painful knees that have led to one’s inability to either flex or extend the knees. Damaged knees, alongside the tissues that surround them, will with time, deteriorate and wear out. When they do, it becomes very difficult if not impossible to perform simple day-to-day activities.

Such knees can be replaced. That’s what total knee replacement does. At least 90% of those who had this surgery had drastic relief from pains. Most of the cases were those of osteoarthritis. Total knee replacement has been labeled not just as the most effective orthopedic surgery but as the safest!

For a total knee replacement to be done, some cartilages surrounding the shinbone and thighbone, will be removed alongside the bone. The meeting point for these cartilages and the bones is the knee joint.

The knee is then replaced with a good one obtained from another person.

At knee region around the thighbone bone, a metal is implanted. At the knee region around the shinbone, plastic is planted therein. These two implants allow the two bones to reestablish a smooth surface which is needed for easy movement of the knee without feeling pains. In some cases, the tissues below the knee cap will be replaced.

Total knee replacement
Photo Credit: MedicineNet

Partial knee replacement

In partial knee replacement, what is replaced is only a part of your knee that has been damaged. To do this, a little incision will be done on the affected knee. Since it’s only an incision that will be required to both access the damaged knee and to remove it, blood loss won’t be an issue.

The advantage to this approach is that it requires a smaller incision. It also involves less bone and blood loss as well. It also causes less pain during recovery than a total knee replacement. Less pain is also experienced from this surgery. However, one minus to it is the possibility that arthritis can develop in areas that are not replaced. But, recovery is quick.

Bilateral knee replacement

When you undergo a bilateral knee replacement, your two knees are replaced at the same time.

One plus about the bilateral knee replacement is the fact that you have to be operated upon once. But this approach in itself takes quite a very long time for total recovery. Hence, you might need help to perform simple tasks for a period of time.

Total knee replacement cost

There are no fixed costs for a total knee replacement. Factors that can determine the cost of having a total knee replacement include your overall health state and the place where you are to be operated upon. Physical therapy, personal financial obligations, insurance policy, and hospital stay will also determine how much the cost will be.

Total knee replacement surgery

You will be spending not less than 3 – 5 days in the hospital after a typical total knee replacement. Just before you are allowed to leave the hospital, your knees will be cradled in a special machine that moves passively. Your ability to bend in your knees (flexion) and bend them out (extension) will be monitored by medical staff to find out whether you are experiencing any movement limitations.

You will also have to be enrolled for a weight-bearing therapy once the operation is over.

Occupational and physical therapy will be done while you are still in the hospital. To start with, you will be given a cane that will enable you walk around, sit or stand while still in the hospital.

Full recovery will be at home after your discharge from the hospital. You might have to get someone who will assist you at home while your recovery is in motion.

You need rehabilitation to get better very fast. Because of this, your doctor will direct you to a local clinic where you can receive physical therapy. The physical therapy is going to include exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home. Your full recovery will not always be the same with another person that underwent the same procedure. But on the average, you should complete your rehab in 12 weeks and get fully well not later than 6 months after the surgery.

Total knee replacement exercises protocol

Exercise protocol is always part of the physical therapy you will have to undergo for you to really get well. The exercises will make your knees to be strengthened. The more your knees are strengthened, the faster your recovery speed will be. All instruction and protocol must be adhered to strictly for their maximum result. Strengthening the areas surrounding your knees just before you go for the surgery can help you get well faster.

Knee replacement pain

After the surgery, you will experience pain. But with pain-relieving medications that your doctor will be prescribing for you, the pain can be easily taken care of. Do well to keep your doctor updated on your improvement with the prescribed medications.

How long does a total knee replacement last?

When your knee is replaced, it can last for about 15 to 20 years.

It was the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons that posits that a little above 90% of the people who opted for the modern day knee replacement, will have a well-functioning knee for 15 years or more.

There are 80-85% probabilities of a total replacement that can last for three months. Some can last for a few months. This was a claim by the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons

The takeaway

Complications arising from total knee replacement are very few. It is safe to perform. But you should discuss with your doctor in case you have interests for a total knee replacement. Your doctor will inform you on all the nitty-gritty of the procedure. You should find out how much it’s going to cost you. Follow-up facility should also be discussed.

How much time you can stay away from work can also determine how long you can be kept in the hospital after the surgery. It will help you know what to expect and prepare. Find out the risks, too, before you opt for one. If you have been experiencing chronic pains in your knee or both knees, you might want to undergo a knee replacement. After a typical knee replacement and recovery is full, you can resume your normal day-to-day life’s work including exercises like tennis, golf, swimming etc. Your life’s quality will improve once the pain from the surgery gradually fades away or goes completely.

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