Should You Consider a Knee Replacement?
posted by Dr. Brady Barker, MD | May 9, 2017
Is your knee pain interfering with everyday life? If other methods of pain relief aren’t working, it may be time to talk to your doctor about knee replacement surgery. Also called arthroplasty, knee replacement surgery is generally for people over the age of 50 with severe osteoarthritis. It involves capping the ends of the bones that form the knee joint, as well as the knee cap, with metal and plastic parts.
What are some of the primary reasons knee replacement surgery might be right for you, and what can you expect both before and after? Let’s take a look.
The primary reason for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis that becomes extremely painful. Osteoarthritis involves the breaking down of joint cartilage, which limits movement and causes pain. In many cases, this makes simple tasks like walking or climbing stairs extremely painful.
Other forms of arthritis can also lead to knee replacement, including rheumatoid arthritis or arthritis resulting from an injury. Traumas like fractures, torn cartilage and torn ligaments may also lead to knee replacement surgery. In most cases, surgery will only be considered a serious option after other less invasive treatment methods have failed.
Before a knee replacement procedure, you will need to complete several steps to prepare:
During surgery, you’ll be put under general anesthesia or spinal/epidural anesthesia (numb below the waist), and a cut between 8 and 12 inches will be made in front of the knee. The damaged section of the joint is removed from the bone surface, and the surfaces are then shaped in preparation for an artificial joint. This joint (called a prosthesis), made of metal or plastic, is attached to the thigh bone, shin and kneecap with cement or a special material. Then the incision will be closed with stitches or staples, and a bandage will be applied.
There are a few risks associated with knee replacement surgery:
For current knee replacement surgeries, about 85 percent of implants last at least 20 years. There are recent advances in minimally invasive surgery that limit the size of the incision and can lead to even less pain and quicker recovery times, but only a small number of North American surgeons perform this procedure currently while more research is being done on it.
Recovery after knee surgery can include changes around the home and physical therapy. With the right recovery tactics, you can return to many or all of the same activities as before surgery.
If you think knee replacement surgery might be right for you, speak to your doctor and he or she will determine the most appropriate course of treatment, based on your specific diagnosis.
I received an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Brigham Young University and thereafter attended the Medical College of Wisconsin. I find satisfaction in the process of putting broken people back together and relieving them of pain. Helping patients recover and enjoy life again is a gratifying experience for me in my profession. My approach to patient interaction is to consider each individual’s case, treat him or her individually and maintain open communication.
“Knee Replacement Surgery for Arthritis.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/knee-replacement-surgery#1
“Knee Replacement Surgery Procedure.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/orthopaedic/knee_replacement_surgery_procedure_92,P07673/
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.