What is a knee replacement?
A knee replacement can be total or partial, depending on how advanced a patient’s condition is. A total knee replacement involves the resurfacing of a knee joint. The surgeon will first remove diseased cartilage and bone from the joint. Then, metal and plastic parts are used to cap the ends of the bones and the kneecap. This creates a smooth joint that can move and bend without pain.
When to consider this surgery
A total knee replacement is considered by the patient and physician when less invasive treatments have failed to provide relief. Treatments that physicians try first include oral medication to reduce inflammation, physical therapy, weight loss, and steroid injections. If a patient is still suffering, surgery may be the final option to improve the quality of life.
Are there any risks?
The risk of complications for this surgery is generally low. Potential problems include infection, blood clots, problems with the implant, and nerve damage. Physicians will always discuss possible complications and risk factors with a patient before surgery.
What are the benefits of a TKR?
Over 90% of people who have total knee replacement surgery experience significant pain relief and improved joint function. Patients won’t be able to recover function lost before developing arthritis, but the improvements in daily living often far outweigh the risks. People enjoy a wide range of physical activities after recovery, including walking, swimming, hiking, biking, and other low-impact sports.
What to expect during recovery
Many patients considering a total knee replacement want to know how long walking again will take. Fortunately, walking with an assisted device such as a walker, cane, or crutches will begin within 24 hours of surgery. If all goes well, patients are discharged home within 2-3 days after surgery. Physical therapy can be completed at an outpatient clinic or at home. Full rehabilitation will take approximately 8 weeks.
How long does a TKR last?
Based on extensive studies that include various types of implants, over 90% of total knee replacements are expected to last 10-15 years. However, joint replacement technology is evolving quickly. Newer, more durable implants may last even longer. Total knee replacements may provide years of relief and improved function for eligible patients who have exhausted other treatment options. For more information about knee replacement surgery, speak with an orthopedic surgeon.