When Should You Get a Total Knee Replacement?

If you are currently plagued by severely painful knee arthritis or injury, you are not alone. Knee problems are a fairly common condition experienced by people of all ages. Its symptoms may vary in degree and severity, but one thing’s for sure一it can definitely affect your mobility and decrease your quality of life.

Fortunately, there’s a treatment option that can save your knees and help you get back to your active lifestyle一a surgical technique called total knee replacement.

Are you considering this type of procedure? Read on below to learn more about total knee replacement: what it is, how it’s done, and when you should get it.

What is total knee replacement?

Total knee replacement or knee arthroplasty refers to a surgical procedure used to treat moderate to severely damaged knee joints. It involves removing the diseased knee boned and cartilage and then replacing them with artificial implants. 

This procedure is also known as knee “resurfacing” since the process only involves removing and replacing the surface portion of the knee joint.

The main goal of knee arthroplasty is to relieve knee pain and other symptoms by replacing the damaged knee parts with their artificial counterparts. 

When does a doctor recommend knee replacement surgery?

Doctors and orthopedic specialists usually perform total knee replacements to treat knee pain and disability. One of the most common causes of such symptoms is degenerative joint diseases, like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. 

During its early stages, arthritic conditions can be managed using conservative methods, like medications and physical therapy. However, your physician will recommend a knee replacement surgery when:

  • Non-surgical techniques do not work or improve the patient’s condition anymore. This includes prescription drugs, injections, and physical therapy.
  • There’s severe pain in the knees that causes mobility problems, limiting the patient from doing their daily living activities.
  • There’s moderate to severe pain and inflammation in the knees even when the patient is at rest, either day or night.
  • Knee deformity can be seen in the affected joints.

Furthermore, your orthopedic surgeon will conduct a full assessment of your joint condition first before surgery. A physical exam will help determine your knee’s limited range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Additionally, an x-ray or CT scan imaging can identify the extent of the joint’s damage, thus helping your surgeon decide what kind of surgical technique is appropriate.

How is it performed?

Knee replacement surgeries require patients to be put under spinal or general anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss this with you before your operation. Generally, here’s what happens during a total knee replacement procedure:

  • Your orthopedic surgeon will make an incision to expose the full surface of the affected knee joint. The damaged cartilage at the end of the tibia and femur will be removed. Your doctor will also take out the impaired bones underneath the cartilages.
  • Next, your surgeon will position the metal implants on the surface of the knee joint to cement it in place. Your doctor will discuss the best type of artificial joint that suits your medical needs.
  • The surgeon may also insert a spacer in between the metal prosthesis to ensure a smooth gliding surface of the artificial joint. 
  • Once everything is in place, the incision will be closed with stitches and topped with a sterile bandage.

Typically, doctors attach three prosthetic components to their patient during a total knee replacement: the tibial (shinbone), femoral (thigh bone), and patellar component.

How long does it take to recover from a total knee replacement?

Right after the surgery, it’s normal to feel pain, as this is a part of the healing process. Your doctor will prescribe you medications for pain management and infection. You will also be instructed about proper wound care, diet, breathing exercises, and activity restrictions.

Additionally, you’ll be advised to move your foot and ankle to avoid blood clots and reduce leg swelling. A physical therapist will also work with you during your recovery to help you regain leg movements and improve your healing process.

Recovery from a total knee replacement surgery will take three to six weeks. By this time, you can resume most of your day-to-day activities, such as walking and shopping. Remember to talk to your doctor first about your specific activity limitations. 

How long do you stay in the hospital for a total knee replacement?

How long you stay in the hospital or orthopedic surgery center depends on your individual medical needs. But most patients can go home the same day, a few hours after the operation. However, it’s essential to have someone with you to drive you home and assist you with personal tasks for the first few days. 

What is the most commonly reported problem after knee replacement surgery?

Complications rarely happen for patients who don’t have an underlying medical condition. In fact, severe problems like knee joint infection only occur in less than 2% of patients who undergo knee joint replacement. Although uncommon, here are some risks that you should be aware of:

  • Infection in the wound area or around the prosthesis.
  • Bleeding during the surgery
  • Blood clots
  • Nerves or blood vessel injury during the operation

This study delves deeper into some of the other complications patients might encounter after a knee replacement surgery.

There’s nothing to worry though, since your orthopedic specialist will give a thorough medical evaluation to ensure a safe and successful operation.

outpatient surgery center in Cary

Get the best orthopedic care at Panther Creek UNC.

At Panther Creek’s outpatient surgery center in Cary, we provide the highest quality of patient care and services to treat your musculoskeletal conditions. Our board-certified team of orthopedic specialists ensures that each patient gets an individualized plan of care tailored to address their medical needs. 

Take back your pain-free life by getting in touch with us! Contact our team to learn more about total knee replacement and other orthopedic procedures that we offer. 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

outpatient orthopedic surgery cary
6715 McCrimmon Parkway
Suite 205 A 
Cary, NC 27519
Monday – Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram