Knee replacement surgery is the best way to help relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints. Surgeons cut the damaged bone and cartilage from the thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap. Then, they can replace it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) made of metal, high-grade plastics, and polymers.
To determine if you need a knee replacement, surgeons check the motion, stability, and strength of the knee. Also, they use X-rays to find the extent of the damage.
There are a variety of prostheses and surgical methods for your surgeon to choose from. Your age, weight, lifestyle, knee size and shape, and general health are important in determining your needs.
Why Knee Replacement is Done?
Most patients have knee replacement surgery to relieve severe pain caused by osteoarthritis. They usually have problems walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. Some of them suffer pain even when they rest.
How You Prepare for a Knee Replacement?
Food and medications
You may need to stop taking certain medications before your surgery. Doctors will tell you not to eat anything after midnight the day of the procedure.
Preparing for Recovery
Get crutches or a walker before surgery since you will need them for several weeks. Also, arrange a ride home from the hospital and help with your chores at home while you heal.
Lastly, make your home safer and easier to walk around for a healthy recovery. So, consider doing the following:
- Arrange a living space on one floor because climbing stairs will be difficult.
- Install bars or handrails in your bathroom for safety. Also, if you have a low toilet, install a toilet-seat riser with arms.
- Get a solid bench or chair for your shower.
- You will need a stable chair with a firm cushion and back, and a footstool to lift your leg.
- Move away loose rugs or cords.
- Secure stairway handrails.
What You Can Expect
Before the procedure
You will need anesthesia for a knee replacement procedure. Decide with your team whether to have general or spinal anesthesia. The first makes you unconscious while the latter makes you unable to feel pain waist down.
You will need antibiotics before, during, and after surgery to help avoid infection. Also, your team may give you a nerve block around the knee to numb it. The numbness will wear off slowly after the procedure.
During Knee Replacement
The surgeon keeps your knee in a bent position to expose all surfaces of the joint. An incision about 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inches) long is enough to move aside your kneecap and cut away the damaged joint surfaces. Then, your surgeon attaches the pieces of the prosthesis.
Before closing the incision, they bend and rotate your knee to test its function. Knee replacement surgery lasts about two hours.
After the Knee Replacement
You will spend 1-2 hours in a recovery room after surgery. Most people go home on the same day of surgery. They will give you medication to help with the pain.
You need to move your foot and ankle to increase blood flow and prevent swelling and blood clots. Using blood thinners and wearing a support hose or compression boots is also helpful to protect against swelling and clotting.
Your team will ask you to do frequent breathing exercises and increase the activity level. You will learn how to exercise your new knee from a physical therapist.
After leaving the hospital, you will resume physical therapy at home or a center. You need to do your exercises regularly and follow your team’s advice about wound care and diet.
Most people see pain relief, improved mobility, and a better quality of life after knee replacement surgery. Also, knee replacement lasts more than 15 years.
After 3 to 6 weeks, you can resume most of your daily activities. You can drive in three weeks if you can bend your knee far enough and control your muscles. However, you can not drive while using pain medications.
After recovery, you can engage in light activities such as walking, swimming, or biking. Also, you should avoid activities and sports that involve jumping or contact. Talk to your doctor about these limitations and follow the advice to live a mobile and painless life.
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