Knee Replacement

1 What is a Knee Replacement?

Knee replacement surgery is also known as knee arthroplasty, it can help relieve pain and restore function to severely diseased knees.

During knee replacement surgery, a surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from your thigh bone, shin bone, and kneecap and replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers.

The first artificial knees were little more than crude hinges. Now you and your doctor can choose from a variety of designs taking into account your age, weight, activity level and overall health.

Most knee replacement joints behave like your knee, with its ability to roll and glide as it bends.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The most common reason why knee replacement surgery is done is to relieve severe pain pain caused by osteoarthritis.

People who have problems walking, climbing stairs and getting in and out of chairs.

Some individuals may also experience severe knee pain at rest.

3 Potential Risks

As with any surgery, knee replacement surgery has its own, these risks include the following:

  • infection,
  • blood clots in the vein or lung,
  • heart attacks,
  • stroke
  • nerve damage.

Although the risk of infection is very low, notify the doctor when you notice the following:

  • fever greater than 100 F (37 C),
  • shaking chills,
  • drainage from the surgical site and increasing redness,
  • tenderness,
  • swelling
  • pain in the knee.

An infected knee replacement usually requires surgery to remove the artificial parts and antibiotics to kill the bacteria. After the infection is cleared, another surgery is performed to install a new knee.

Your chances of a good or excellent outcome that reduces pain and improves function lessen with each with each additional surgery. An additional risk of knee replacement is a failure of the artificial joint.

With daily use, even the strongest metallic and plastic parts eventually wear out.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your knee replacement, you must follow your doctor’s orders. An orthopedic surgeon performs knee replacement procedures.

Prior to the procedure, the surgeon takes your medical history and performs a physical examination to assess your knee's range of motion, stability, and strength.

X-rays can help determine the extent of the knee damage. Knee replacement surgery requires anaesthesia. Your input and personal preference help them decide whether to use general anaesthesia which makes you unconscious or spinal or epidural anaesthesia which leaves you awake but unable to feel pain from your waist down.

Your doctor or anaesthesiologist might devise you to stop taking certain medications and dietary supplements before your surgery.

You will likely be instructed to not to consume anything after midnight before your surgery.

Plan for your recovery

For several weeks after the procedure, you might need to use crutches or walker.

Make arrangements for transportation from the hospital earlier and also plan for help with everyday tasks, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry.

If you do not live with anyone, your surgeon's staff or hospital discharge planner will suggest a temporary caretaker.

To make your home safer and easier to navigate during recovery, consider making the following improvements:

  • create a total living space on one floor,
  • install safety bars or a secure handrail in your shower or bath,
  • secure stairway handrails,
  • get a stable chair with a firm seat cushion and back and a footstool to elevate your leg,
  • arrange for a toilet seat riser with arms if you have a low  toilet,
  • try a stable bench or chair for your shower
  • remove loose rugs and chords.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your knee replacement surgery.

During the procedure, your knee is in a bent position to expose all surfaces of the joint. After making an incision about 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) long, your surgeon moves aside your kneecap and cuts away the damaged joint surfaces.

After the joint surfaces are prepared, the surgeon attaches the pieces of the artificial joint. Before closing the incision, he or she bends and rotates your knee, testing and balancing it to ensure that it functions properly. Expect knee replacement surgery to last about two hours.

After knee replacement surgery

After surgery, you're wheeled to a recovery room for one to two hours. You're then moved to your hospital room, where you typically stay for a couple of days. You might feel pain, but medications prescribed by your doctor should help control it.

During the hospital stay, you're encouraged to move your foot and ankle, which increases blood flow to your leg muscles and helps prevent swelling and blood clots. You might need to receive blood thinners and wear support hose or compression boots to further protect against swelling and clotting.

The day after surgery, a physical therapist shows you how to exercise your new knee. During the first few weeks after surgery, a good recovery is more likely if you follow all of your surgeon's instructions concerning wound care, diet and exercise.

Your physical activity program needs to include:

  • A graduated walking program — first indoors, then outdoors — to increase your mobility
  • Slowly resuming other household activities, including walking up and down stairs
  • Knee strengthening exercises you learned from the hospital physical therapist, performed several times a day

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your knee replacement results, consult with your doctor.

For many individuals, knee replacement provides pain relief, improved mobility and a better quality life.

Three to six weeks following the surgery, you generally can resume most of your daily activities, such as shopping and light housekeeping.

Driving is also possible around six weeks if you are capable of bending your knee far enough to sit in a car and if you possess enough muscle control to operate the brakes and accelerator.

After you have recovered, you can enjoy a variety of low-impact activities, such as:

  • swimming
  • golfing
  • walking
  • biking

High-impact activities, such as:

  • jogging
  • skiing
  • tennis

Sports that involve contact or jumping must be avoided.

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