Getting surgery can be scary, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the procedure. However, if surgery is the only way left to treat your pain, it’s definitely worth undergoing — severe knee pain is not something you should simply accept as a fact of life. Let’s talk about what knee replacement surgery is, what makes someone a good candidate for the procedure, and what to expect throughout the process.
What Is Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement is a surgical procedure wherein a surgeon replaces the damaged or diseased parts of a knee joint with metal or plastic parts. Also called knee arthroplasty, it’s a highly common and safe procedure that can help you feel and move better again.
Knee replacement surgery can be done through a large incision or several tiny incisions. The latter method is known as minimally invasive knee surgery or arthroscopy. The procedure is usually performed on patients with severe arthritis or knee injuries. The most common type of arthritis treated using knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis, which causes the breakdown of the knee joint.
When patients experience severe knee pain due to arthritis or injury, nonsurgical methods will be explored before a surgeon recommends knee replacement. After exhausting other methods, surgery will become an option when the pain gets in the way of even simple tasks like walking or resting.
How Does Knee Replacement Surgery Work?
If you decide to proceed with knee replacement, you might need to have the following conducted:
- Blood test
- Dental exam
- Physical exam
Based on your current health conditions and lifestyle, your surgeon will guide you on how to prepare for the procedure. You should notify your doctor of any allergies, the medications and supplements you’re taking, and if you have a history of bleeding disorders. You’ll also need to fast eight hours before the procedure.
You’ll go through the following process during a knee replacement surgery:
- You’ll receive either regional or general anesthesia.
- The skin at the surgical site will be cleaned using an antiseptic solution.
- Your surgeon will make an incision in the knee area.
- Your surgeon will remove damaged cartilage and bone and replace them with a prosthesis usually made out of metal or plastic.
- The implant will be secured into place. This may be done with or without cement.
- The incision will be closed with stitches or surgical staples.
- A sterile bandage or dressing will be applied to the surgical site.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll be monitored in a recovery room. Depending on your surgeon’s instructions, you may be able to go home on the same day or stay in the hospital for several days. As it’s important to start moving your new joint as soon as possible after surgery, a physical therapist will prepare an exercise program for you and help you move around while at the hospital. You can then continue your physical therapy at home or at a rehabilitation center until you regain sufficient muscle strength and range of motion.
What Will My Recovery Look Like?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow based on your procedure, lifestyle, and health. Many patients can return to their daily activities around three to six weeks after their procedure. Here are some guidelines to help ensure a smooth and successful recovery:
- Continue with your physical therapy program until your doctor clears you to stop
- Take pain medications at the prescribed times and in proper doses
- Use assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, if needed
- Modify your home to make it conducive for recovery by adding items such as:
- Secure handrails along stairs
- Safety handrails in the shower or bath
- Shower benches or chairs
- Stable chairs with footstools
- Raised toilet seats
- Dressing sticks
- Hydrate and eat a healthy diet
- Avoid sitting for too long at a time
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and climbing ladders
- Clean your incision site as instructed by your doctor
- Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of infection, such as swelling and fever
Patients continue to enjoy pain relief, improved mobility, and a better quality of life long after knee replacement surgery. Most knee replacements last more than 15 years.
Should I Get a Knee Replacement?
You might be a candidate for knee replacement surgery if you have:
- Arthritis in the knee or a knee injury
- Knee pain and stiffness that interferes with your daily activities
- Persistent knee swelling and inflammation
If you want to know whether you should get knee replacement surgery, the easiest way is to consult an orthopedic doctor. They can assess your symptoms and determine the treatment option best suited to your medical needs and goals.
Knee Replacement in Johnson County, KS
Knee replacement surgery is a highly effective procedure that treats damaged knee joints and replaces them with metal or plastic implants. After getting a knee replacement, you can enjoy reduced pain and a return to your daily life.
If you’re suffering from severe knee pain and wondering if you’re eligible for knee replacement surgery, get your knee health assessed and treated here at Midwest Orthopaedics. Our board-certified physicians and caring staff are ready to help with your pain and guide you through the whole process — from diagnosis to full recovery.