- What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
- Does Knee Replacement Surgery Really Work?
- Partial vs. Total Knee Replacement Surgery
- Things to do before Knee Replacement Surgery
- Do’s and Don’ts after Knee Replacement Surgery
It’s unfortunate knowing that some people suddenly find themselves unable to move like they used to. Even simple tasks like getting out of a chair, using the stairs, or walking the dog become a heavy chore, and while the tendency of those in pain is to undergo physical therapy and medication, recovery isn’t a guarantee. Worst case scenario is, they will be in pain for a lifetime. If you’re one of these people, you might want to look into knee replacement surgery.
What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement is one of the many types of arthroplasty. Arthroplasty literally means “the surgical repair of a joint,” and is one of the most common bone surgeries in the United States. While the procedure can help relieve pain caused by severe arthritis, it also helps a person to move with ease.
Knee arthroplasty involves ridding of the damaged cartilage and bone from your kneecap, shinbone, and thighbone and replacing it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) that’s a combination of polymers, high-grade plastics, and metal alloys.
To figure out if you need a knee replacement surgery, X-ray tests should be conducted first to assess the knee’s strength, stability, and extent of motion. The operation will be performed by an orthopedic surgeon. Your doctor will do further examination to determine which knee replacement alternatives and prostheses should be used according to your overall health and knee shape and size, along with your weight and age.
Does Knee Replacement Surgery Really Work?
The overall success rate for knee replacement patients are reliably very high, and they’ve also reported that their quality of life has improved vastly. Out of 10 knee arthroplasty patients, nine have reported an immediate relief from pain in the knees, and 95 percent said they believe it was the right choice.
At an estimate, approximately 90 percent of artificial knee joints last 10 years, while 80 percent said the condition of the knee has been good for the last 20 years. It all depends on a person’s activities and health, and doctors themselves have said that the result of the operation differs from patient to patient.
The main reason why people undergo knee replacement is because of knee osteoarthritis. This bone disease typically happens in old age when the cartilage — the cushion between the joints and knee — starts to deteriorate. However, there are also several other reasons why you might need a replacement of the knee, which include:
- Poor blood circulation: A doctor might recommend a patient for knee surgery if he has either avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis, wherein blood starts flowing to the bones.
- Knee injuries: Whether it’s a torn ligament or a broken bone around the knee, there’s a possibility that a person may develop arthritis. Arthritis is a source of intense pain and can disrupt a person’s way of life.
- Deformities: While bow leggedness isn’t exactly a life-threatening condition, it can be corrected by arthroplasty so the position of the knee will be restored.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The disease most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles, and one way to ease the pain is by undergoing arthroplasty.
Partial vs. Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Our knees give us the ability and support to be able to walk, run, climb, and other activities all because it can bend. In general, a person has healthy knees if the knees can move without discomfort. On the other hand, a damaged knee can cause disability and pain. The severity of symptoms is not only caused by the type of damage, but also the location of the injury. This can be determined by knowing which component of the knee is injured: medial, lateral, and/or patellofemoral.
There are two different options when it comes to knee replacement surgery: partial (less invasive) or total knee replacement (TKR). Knowing which one needs to be performed depends on several factors, but the most critical requirement is the number of compartments that require corrective surgery. A total knee replacement involves an overhaul of the whole knee, while partial replacement will include only one compartment of the knee.
Partial surgery of the knee replaces only one side of the joint. The incision is smaller because less bone is removed, but it may not last long as opposed to TKR. However, this is the best option for people with minor bone damage. Blood clots and risk of infection are significantly lower; there is less blood loss and recovery is quicker with straightforward rehabilitation.
Albeit the more invasive procedure, TKR is the most common method carried out, with more than 4.5 million Americans currently living with at least one total knee replacement. Five percent of the total number get both knees operated at the same time.
During TKR surgery, sufficient bone is removed so that the prosthesis recreates the level of the joint line, which could last between 1 to 3 hours. The patient will experience less pain and will have ease of movement afterward, but a scar tissue will be noticeable, thereby inhibiting movement such as bending the knees.
Understanding Knee Replacement Costs
The cost of a knee arthroplasty surgery differs greatly, even within the same state. In an average, a hospital in the United States could charge around $50,000 for TKR, while PKR, is usually about 10 to 20 percent less than a total knee replacement.
PKR costs less because it requires a shorter stay in the hospital, approximately two to three days, compared to TKR that could take three days to a whole week. The estimate above isn’t the full amount you’d have to shell out. Remember that there are other charges you’ll have to take note of such as medicines, therapy, postsurgical care, pathology services, etc.
Things to do before Knee Replacement Surgery
A few weeks prior to your surgery, a series of tests will be conducted to rule other medical issues that may interfere with the procedure. Your medical history will also be taken, as well as previous tests conducted including ECG or EKG, chest X-rays, urinalysis, and blood tests.
Your orthopedic surgeon should know all the medications you’re currently taking so he can give advice whether certain medicines need to be stopped or to be continued. Although, all patients are advised to take care of their health before the day of surgery. If you develop an infection before surgery, your surgeon should be informed immediately.
Generally, anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin should not be taken at least seven days before surgery. Drugs that are safe to take or continue taking include Tylenol and Cox-II inhibitors the likes of Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx.
Your medical evaluation will also include a comprehensive dental checkup to reduce the risk of infection. It is also suggested that your blood be donated before surgery in case a transfusion is needed especially in TKR. If you can’t donate, however, ask your family and friends with the same blood type to do so so they can be screened.
It is important to contact and inform your insurance company if a date for the surgery has already been set. The company will need information regarding your operation including the date and the type of procedure. Other issues you need to discuss with them is surgery aftercare, wherein physical therapy may be required, and equipment like a walker or commode needs to be covered.
Preparations at Home
If you live alone, it is important to contact somebody you trust and have him stay with you for at least six weeks after the operation. You will need to buy a walker or crutches too, and don’t forget to bring them to the hospital the day of the surgery.
If a friend or a family member isn’t available, contact local services so a caregiver or a nurse can be assigned to help you at home. You will also need someone to fix your meals, so make sure you stock on food supplies, preferably meals that are easy to prepare but with high nutritional content. Your primary physician will be able to give you advice on what to eat and what you should avoid.
Before the scheduled operation, your clothes and other hygienic items should be ready. Loose clothing is recommended, along with a comfortable pair of shoes or slip-ons.
Bring a mobile phone in case of emergency, but leave other valuables such as watches and jewelry at home.
Best of all, make sure you are well rested the day before your surgery. Try to go to bed early.
It is normal to feel anxious and scared on the day of surgery. While it’s hard to relax, try and do so. Several members of the hospital staff will be there to help you check-in and change into your hospital gown. For the extra anxious, a nurse may be asked to inject you with drugs that will help you relax.
After surgery, do not panic if there is still pain in your knee — this is normal. Pain relievers will be given through your I.V. line, so you should be okay within a few minutes. It is possible, though, that you may feel a bit nauseous.
Once your stomach adjusts, you will be allowed to consume food.
Do’s and Don’ts after Knee Replacement Surgery
- Exercise. A lot of people are scared to move their knee even a tiny bit after surgery. Although a natural reaction, it is recommended that you do simple exercises or start bending your knee but very slowly. There will be pain at first, but do it more frequently, and you’ll eventually get used to it.
- Keep your legs elevated at all times. The hospital will provide a platform to rest your fit in, or you can improvise and roll a few towels and put them under your heels while lying down.
- Buy several support stockings and always wear them until doctor’s advice.
- While pain relievers could be given, you can put ice on your knee to alleviate pain.
- Do not cause pressure on the side of the body where the surgery was performed.
- Do not stay in a single position for long periods to avoid stiffness.
- Do not cross your legs when trying to sit down.
- Be careful not to twist your knee for six to eight weeks.
- It may seem comfortable, but do not put a pillow under your knees when lying down or sitting. It will only worsen the pain as it reduces the extension of your knee.
- Do not make sudden, jerky movements.
Other Important Things to Remember:
After surgery, try your best not to get any infection. The infectious bacteria that will enter your body could reach the artificial knee and get infected, which will require another operation. You should also keep in touch with your physical therapist so he can monitor your daily activities and help you regain muscle strength around the knee. Your surgeon may also ask you to come back for a follow-up, so show up at the scheduled date. It will help detect issues related to your knee operation.
Long-term care can help avoid problems or correct problems early.
A knee replacement operation is physically taxing, but another important element to better recovery and rehab is emotional support. It’s unfortunate that having someone with you is hard to come by these days, that, according to statistics that show about 50.2 percent, or 124.6 million American adults, live alone. It’s a good thing, however, that caregivers are assigned to those who have been recently treated.
No matter who your caregiver is, it is essential to communicate. You are struggling with mobility, but you should also consider that your caregiver may, at times, feel frustrated over the whole situation.
Regardless, it is comforting to know that knee replacement procedures have been proven extremely successful and beneficial to modern society. Recovery may take time, varying from patient to patient, but you will enjoy many years of pain-free knees and joints.