Total Knee Replacement – Benefits, Risks and Post Operative Care

Total knee replacement surgery answers the debilitating conditions that threaten patients with movement restrictions and pain. Severely degenerated and damaged knees cause pain in the joints and make movement difficult. The condition grows worse progressively. This surgical procedure relives the pain and brings back flexibility and mobility.

Need for replacement surgery

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis and long term knee pain problems benefit from the replacement surgery. Patients with impaired movements due to knee related problems can consider this option.

What is total knee replacement?

Knee replacement is a surgical procedure. During the procedure Surgeons replace the damaged or diseased portion of the knee with plastic or metal prosthesis. In total replacement the entire knee is replaced.

Function of the knee and how replacement helps

The knee joint is crucial to lower limb flexibility and movement. It is the pivot that joins the thigh bone to the bones of the lower leg. Total replacement consists of removing the end of the thigh bone and replacing it with a pre designed shell and simultaneously removing the upper end of the lower leg bone. This is replaced with a plastic piece and metal stem. A button lie structure is placed behind the knee cap. This completes the entire prosthesis that replaces the normal knee. The ligaments that hold the lower leg in position are replaced with polyethylene.

Benefits of knee replacement

  • Relief from pain
  • Improved mobility
  • Improved lifestyle

Risks of replacement surgery

  • The greatest risk is of forming blood clots that can travel as far as the lungs.
  • Other risks include urinary tract infection, nausea, knee stiffness and pain.
  • Bleeding in the joint and damage to nerves can also occur.

Pre and post operative care

Patients are put on antibiotics before the surgery to minimize risks. Vital parameters are also monitored to prevent complications during after surgery. Routine blood tests and reviewing of medications taken are part of pre operative care.

Physiotherapy is an essential component of post operative care. At times a continuous passive motion machine is used to automatically move the knee in various ways while patients relax. This improves blood circulation and prevents knee stiffness. Physiotherapy helps patients to learn to use their knee joint. Exercises are shown to strengthen calf and thigh muscles.

Patients begin to walk with the assistance of walkers and crutches till they are able to walk on their own. It is important for patients to continue with the exercises. They also need to carefully monitor the wound for signs of infection.

Caring for replaced joints

Replaced joints need to be taken care of. Activities remain restricted to those that cause least damage to the new joint. Contact sports are avoided though leisure sports can be enjoyed.

Total knee replacement is a recommended procedure for patients who have severely restricted movement due to knee joint degeneration, damage, trauma and arthritis. With proper care a replaced knee joint can bring back agility and movement and lead to a more active lifestyle.