Living with severely damaged knees makes it hard to perform even the simplest activities. Some patients even report feeling pain when they are sitting or lying down. When non-surgical treatments stop being helpful, many patients will turn to total knee replacement surgery. The first knee replacement surgery was performed in 1968, and since then the surgery has developed into one of the most effective treatments for severe knee damage. Over 600,000 Knee replacements are performed every year in the United States because the surgery is known to relieve pain, correct deformities and help patients resume their normal activities.
The knee is the largest joint in the body and required to perform most activities. The knee is made up of the end of the femur, tibia, and patella. Where these three bones touch is covered with articular cartilage that helps movement remain smooth and fluid. The menisci are located between the femur and tibia, acting as shock absorbers. Large ligaments hold the femur and tibia together to help provide knee strength. The synovial membrane covers the rest of the knees surface. The membrane releases a fluid that lubricates the cartilage and reduces friction.
What Happens During a Knee Replacement?
There are four necessary steps to knee replacement surgery. First, the bone is prepared, and the damaged cartilage surfaces at the end of the femur and tibia are removed. Metal implants are inserted to replace the damaged cartilage and bone. They are cemented or press-fit into the bone. Next, the undersurface of the kneecap is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Finally, a plastic spacer is inserted between the metal parts to create a smooth surface.
Should I Have Knee Replacement Surgery?
Over 90 percent of people who have total knee replacement surgery report experiencing a reduction in knee pain and more comfort performing everyday activities. However, the procedure will not help patients do more than they could before they developed arthritis. High-impact activities are not recommended after surgery because it may expedite damage to the plastic spacer.
Serious complications following knee surgery are rare. Infection, blood clots, implant problems and continued pain are some of the reported complications. However, they occur in less than 2% of patients.
Full restoration of full motion in the knee is uncommon after surgery. Improvement of motion is the goal, and after surgery, most patients can expect to be able to fully straighten the replaced knee and bend the knee far enough to climb stairs.
After surgery, patients should participate in regular light exercise programs to maintain strength and mobility. Patients should also take precautions to avoid falls and injuries. If another injury or fracture occurs, surgeries may be required.