It is a metal and plastic covering for raw, arthritic bone ends. It replaces cartilage that has worn away over the years. Knee replacement can eliminate pain and allow you to move easily with less discomfort. For those that have become bow-legged or knock-kneed over the years, it can also straighten your legs to a more natural position.
When arthritis knee pain severely limits your ability to walk, work, or perform even simple activities, knee replacement should be considered.
Knee replacement is only recommended after careful diagnosis of your joint problem. Arthroscopic or microscopic surgery is not helpful once arthritis is advanced. Also, it is not likely that anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections will give you the same long-term relief that knee replacement will.
Knee replacements are successfully performed with all cemented components as well as with a combination of uncemented and cemented components. Your surgeon will discuss which technique is best for you.
The average hospital stay for a knee replacement patient is around 3-5 days. The average stay for two knees is 5-7 days. If both knees require replacement, it is usually best to have both done at the same time. That way, the total disability will be only slightly longer than the operation for one knee and the problem will be solved in the least amount of time.
In some cases, fixing one knee reduces the stress on the other knee, thus giving another two or three years if the arthritis is not too advanced. Each individual case is different.
Recovery varies with each person. You will use a walker for approximately 4 weeks after the operation. You can drive a car in 2-4 weeks. Most people gradually increase their activities and may play golf, doubles tennis, shuffleboard, or bowl in 12 weeks. More active sports, such as singles tennis and jogging are not recommended.
After discharge, there is usually no need for a nursing home. Some patients who live alone may require a short stay at a rehab center for a few days after they leave the hospital. This will depend on how you progress in the hospital, and keep in mind that healing and recovery times vary with each person.
The need for blood transfusions after knee replacement surgery depends greatly on very individualized factors. The majority of knee replacement patients do not require a transfusion after surgery, but those having both knees replaced at the same time are more likely to need one. Some patients may want to donate their own blood prior to surgery for use after surgery. Your surgeon will be happy to discuss these issues with you.
Knee replacement surgery is recognized as a miracle of modern surgery. Most orthopedic experts consider replacement to be the best method of handling arthritis in the knee. Knee replacements have literally put hundreds of thousands of people back on their feet and allowed them to enjoy their golden years.
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications after knee replacement surgery. However, they are quite rare. Driving on an interstate highway is probably more dangerous. To reduce the risk of infection, we take special precautionary measures in the operating room, and use powerful antibiotics. Our personnel are limited to fully-trained and experienced nurses and technicians.
Thanks to advances in medication technology, we are able to keep you very comfortable after surgery. After surgery, any temporary discomfort does not compare to the pain of arthritis endured by most people in months and years before surgery.
And because knee replacement patients are not “sick,” you will not be treated as such. You will wear casual clothing after surgery, not hospital gowns. You’ll also join other joint replacement patients for buffet lunches, television, cards, and games.