Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure where the worn out surfaces of the knee are resurfaced with metal and plastic components. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the bones can wear away, cause pain and discomfort, and make simple pleasures like walking and shopping unbearable. Knee replacement can reduce or eliminate pain, allow easier movement and get you back to normal life.
Who is a Candidate?
Knee replacement surgery may be considered for those suffering from arthritic knee pain that severely limits the activities of daily living. It is only recommended after careful examination and diagnosis of your particular joint problem, and only after more conservative measures such as exercise, physical therapy, and medications have proven to be ineffective.
What Kind of Knee Implant is Best?
There are many kinds and designs of knee implants available today, and no one design or type is best for every patient. Surgeons select the implant they believe is best for their patient’s needs based on a number of factors including age, activity level, the implant’s track record, and his or her comfort with the instruments associated with the particular implant. If you have specific questions regarding implants, your surgeon will be happy to answer them.
How Long will I be in the Hospital?
With improvements in surgical techniques and post-op care, it is now common for many patients to be able to go home from the hospital after 1 - 2 days. If you have both knees replaced at the same time, the stay can be a day or two longer. Of course, each patient is different, but the goal should be for you to recover in the comfort and privacy of your own home as soon as possible.
How Long is the Recovery Period?
Recovery can vary from person to person, but many people will need to use an ambulation aid such as a walker for 2 - 4 weeks or so. Driving may be possible in 2 - 4 weeks, and activities such as golf and bowling can be resumed in as few as 10 - 12 weeks. Some activities such as singles tennis and skiing are not recommended after knee replacement.
Most people will be in the hospital two or three days, though some patients, particularly those who live alone, may need to spend a few days at a rehabilitation center or nursing home.
How Successful is Knee Replacement?
Total knee replacement is recognized as one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. In the United States, over 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year. Most patients opting for a total knee replacement found improvement in pain, functional status and an overall quality of life.
What are the Risks?
Even though knee replacement surgery is considered a successful procedure, it is major surgery, and as with any surgery, there are risks. Possible complications include:
- Blood clots in your leg veins
- Implant loosening
- Nerve or blood vessel damage
- Knee stiffness