Over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed in the USA annually. Most patients are aged between 50 and 80 years, and over 90 percent of them meet a dramatic improvement in their pain and mobility levels. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for a knee replacement surgery. It is a chronic condition that affects many people, that causes the breakdown of cartilage between the joints. This cartilage protects the surface of the bones, just like a cushion. Without this function, bones can rub together, causing swelling but especially pain.
Knee replacement operation is an effective option for patients who feel pain and loss of function in their knees for osteoarthritis or other reasons. In this article, we aimed to inform you by sharing 5 facts you need to know about knee replacement surgery.
What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee injury or damage or arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis may limit your ability for both flexing and extending your knees. The deterioration of your joint and surrounding tissue can make it difficult to perform basic daily activities, including sitting and lying down, as wear increased. Knee replacement surgery is a typical solution for people who suffer from this deterioration.
Knee replacement surgery, also known as a knee arthroplasty is a type of reconstructive procedure that replaces a worn-down knee joint or just parts of it in order to relieve disability or pain. A knee replacement is useful for patients that suffer from:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Severe deformity from trauma
- Meniscus tears
- Cartilage defects
- Ligament tears
Partial Knee Replacement vs. Total Knee Replacement
The knee itself is composed out of three separate structures made out of cartilage and bones:
- The patellofemoral (which is the joint located between the thighbone and kneecap),
- The lateral (the outside)
- The medial (the inside structure of the knee)
The knee is one of the major and most compound joints in the body. The knee basically joins the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The smaller bone that stands next to the tibia (fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are the other bones that create the knee joint.
There are basically two types of knee replacement performed according to the level of the knee problem: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement, each having its own advantages and disadvantages.
Partial knee replacement, as it refers in its name, involves only replacing the part of your knee which is damaged or arthritic. The main advantage of this procedure is that it requires a smaller incision than the total knee replacement. It also involves less blood loss and less bone loss. Also, it causes less pain during recovery than total knee replacements.
While a partial knee replacement surgery may seem more advantageous than the traditional total knee replacement procedure, some doctors believe the latter is more reliable in the long term. Revisions after a partial knee replacement are quite complex and can lead to complications easily.
The Knee Replacement Recovery Period
After a total knee replacement, you usually spend three to five days at the hospital. You may begin weight-bearing therapy just after the operation along with some other physical therapies at the hospital. You will probably be able to stand and walk, at least with the assistance of a cane or walker, before you leave the hospital. Most of your recovery time and rehabilitation process will be at home. Some patients may need home health care or assistance to have a better recovery.
Complete recovery time from a knee replacement surgery usually lasts around 3 months but improvement is often gradual, and full use of the new knee comes into play many months later.
Knee Replacement Exercises
Straight Leg Lifts – The straight leg raise exercise is one of the physical therapy that can provide assistance to improve your strength and your ability to walk.
While laying on your back with the legs fully extended, simply lift your leg around 15 cm and hold it for 10 seconds
Ankle pumps – For this exercise, all you have to do is sit on your back then bend your ankles up as much as possible and point your toes towards you. Then, you have to bend the ankles down and point the toes away from you.
The tight squeeze – You can squeeze the muscles in front of the thigh by pushing the back of your knee to the floor. Try to keep it like this for 10 seconds, then relax and repeat it ones.
Leg slides – You can sit on your back and simply slide your leg out to the side, but make sure you keep your kneecap pointed upward. Once you’ve done it, slide your leg back to its initial position and repeat.
Knee Replacement Alternatives
Knee replacement surgery is not the only option for treating knee pain, but in some cases, it's necessary, especially when the joint is too worn out to do anything about it.
Losing Weight is Recommended
Losing weight is highly recommended as extra weight puts a lot of pressure on the knee joints and tends to wear them out much faster. Because knee pain is one of the most usual results of being overweight or obese. Even a small decrease in weight can help reduce knee pain and the risk of osteoarthritis (OA).
Arthroscopic Knee Surgery
Arthroscopic knee surgery can be useful for certain patients. Through this method, the surgeon will remove bone fragments or repair cartilage and tendons inside the knee. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure that requires inserting a small camera inside the joint. One of the biggest advantages of the arthroscopy is to be able to perform the procedures without damaging normal structures around the joint. Moreover, the arthroscopic method is a lot less invasive and requires a much shorter recovery period.
Knee Shorts with Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid can be injected into the knee in order to lubricate it and also reduce wear and tear on the joints themselves. This type of procedure can improve mobility and at the same time reduce pain. Although some patients can be allergic to hyaluronic acid, this is an effective option for patients who can be applied with mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis failing initial pharmacological therapy.
Using Stem Cells to Treat Knee Pain
Knee treatment through stem cells is still quite experimental at this point, but the procedure can be used to regenerate the knee’s own cartilage. Bone marrow stem cells are taken from the hip bone and used to repair the knee and reduce pain. To compare prices, the average cost for stem cell treatment for knees starts from $5,000 per knee, while the average cost of knee replacement is $10,000 in Turkey.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in April 2019.