Our knees are one of the most important parts of our bodies. They help us walk, dance, sit, stand, and so much more! Without healthy knees, it can be painful and difficult to complete your day-to-day activities or do the things you love. Unfortunately, we become more likely to suffer from knee pain as we age.
When we grow older, the cartilage surrounding the knee joints will wear away, making osteoarthritis a large possibility. One in three people are affected by osteoarthritis. Knee replacements may be a great option for those who experience intense pain when standing or walking for more than 20 minutes. However, any surgery should always be consulted with your doctor.
What is the surgery like?
90% of all knee replacement procedures are total knee replacements. A total knee replacement can be described as a replacement of bone and cartilage with an artificial surface. The name itself may make it seem like the knee is replaced, but it is not. The goal is to create a smooth cushion to help the joint function with little to no pain.
The surgeon repairs the knee joint by placing a prosthesis in place of the worn-out surfaces of the knee cap. The surfaces of the thigh bone and shin bone will be covered. A metal covering will cover the thighbone, while a plastic one will be placed over the shinbone. Sometimes, a surgeon may choose to also replace the undersurface of the kneecap with a plastic surface. This can help lessen pain and provide smoother joint movement. Some bone and cartilage is typically removed during this procedure. The procedure typically lasts 2 – 2.5 hours.
What is the recovery process?
Most patients need hospitalization for 2 to 3 days following the procedure. However, you should be able to get up and move around the next day, but some might need a walker. This will also help prevent blood clots. It is recommended that you use a cane or walker to walk for the first month or two after surgery.
It can take around 3 months to return to your normal activities, but it can also take up to 6 months to reach a full recovery. There are many factors that can influence the recovery process, as well: medical problems, physical condition, and complications from the procedure. Physical therapy is usually necessary to heal from any surgery. Your doctor will be able to find a treatment program for you or direct you to someone who can.
Unless you work a sedentary job, many people take at least one month off from work. You will have frequent post-operative appointments, so the doctors should be able to determine how you are progressing. If you are healing quickly, they might let you return to your regular activities even sooner.
How long do the joint replacements last?
Joint replacements typically last for around 10 to 20 years. There is a 90-95% chance that the joint will last for 10 years and an 80-85% chance that it will last for 20 years. Latest studies show that there is a very low failure rate. Your level of activity can also influence the wear and tear of the prosthesis. If you are physically active, the replacements may have a shorter lifespan.
What are the risks?
There is no surgery that comes risk-free. Luckily, replacements today are less invasive and have a lower risk of rejection. The younger you are, between 50 and 65 years old, the more you are at risk for complications. It is also very likely that you may need another knee replacement surgery later on.
Knee replacements tend to be one of the safest surgeries today and have been performed since the 1970s. Less than 2% of patients have experienced infections due to the procedure. Some other risks include blood clots, pain, implant problems, and blood vessel damage surrounding the knee. Surgeons typically use blood thinners and antibiotics to help prevent complications.
South Texas Spinal Clinic in San Antonio, Texas
If you believe you are ready for a knee replacement, schedule an appointment with one of the specialists at the South Texas Spinal Clinic. Our goal is to make sure you understand your care from start to finish, no matter what the treatment plan may be. The patient is always our priority. Get the personalized care you need, and call our office today at (210) 614-6432.