If knee pain is limiting your ability to perform everyday activities, knee replacement surgery may provide the relief you need. Advancements in this type of orthopedic surgery have made it a viable procedure for many people.
Knee replacement surgery is a procedure in which a damaged or diseased knee joint is replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis, which is made of metal and plastic materials. During the procedure, an incision is made over the knee to allow access to the knee cap, femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). The ends of these bones, and in some cases the underside of the knee cap, are removed. Artificial parts are then implanted into the femur and tibia using a special bone cement.
The actual procedure takes one to two hours. Preparations before surgery and recovery from the general anesthesia may lengthen the operating and recovery room stay. Patients return from surgery with a large bandage on the knee and pressure stockings are used to keep the blood in the legs moving, reducing the risk of developing blood clots. Medications are used to alleviate the moderate pain experienced after surgery.
One to two days after surgery, OLBH physical therapists assist knee replacement patients with regaining strength and motion of the leg. Crutches or a walker may be needed for a few weeks or months after a total knee replacement.
Who should consider a total knee replacement?
Not all degenerative knee conditions require a knee replacement. Knee replacement may be recommended for:
Knee pain that has not responded to six months or more of therapy (including medications, injections and physical therapy)
Knee pain that restricts activities of daily living
Arthritis of the knees
Significant stiffness of the knee
A knee that constantly gives way in spite of reconstructed ligaments
Inner joint arthritis
About 90 percent of patients who have knee replacement surgery are relieved of pain. Prostheses last an average of 10-15 years. It is important to remember that an artificial knee is not a normal knee. Activities that overexert the artificial knee must be avoided.
For patients who will undergo a complete knee or hip replacement, the OrthoCare experience begins with prehab. In prehab, a patient learns about his/her total joint replacement procedure, realistic recovery goals and milestones. Also, any physician ordered testing such as x-rays or lab tests will be completed during prehab.
Working together, patients, their coaches and the OrthoCare team move through the rehabilitation process with an eye toward daily improvement. Patient progress is monitored with two tracking boards on the wall. These tracking boards utilize shoe-shaped magnets to note advancements in the post-surgery recovery process. The hallways are lined with markers every 25 feet so patients can measure how far they have walked and set goals for improvement.