Any place in the body where two or more bones meet is called a joint. Because of their nature and constant motion, it’s not uncommon for joints to become damaged by injuries, arthritis or other diseases. Put more simply, our joints suffer wear and tear over time. Patients with joint problems, specifically knee problems, often experience pain, stiffness and swelling, which can significantly impact their quality of life.
What is a knee replacement?
Welia Health’s orthopedic specialists are experienced in performing joint replacements, most commonly, replacements of the knee, hip and shoulder. During a total knee replacement, the damaged cartilage and bone are trimmed out and replaced with a metal cap which is called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to replicate the movement of a normal, healthy knee.
When is surgery recommended?
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests several reasons why knee replacement surgery may be recommended:
- A knee that has become bowed as a result of severe arthritis
- Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits your everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain, and you may need to use a cane or walker
- Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
- Knee deformity — a bowing in or out of your knee
- Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries
In most cases, patients will follow a more conservative treatment plan to control symptoms without surgery. This may include an exercise program, walking aids such as braces or canes, physical therapy, or medical therapy to reduce inflammation. In cases where arthritis may be present, corticosteroids may be used to address inflammation and pain.
If these nonsurgical treatments do not provide relief, knee replacement may be recommended. In these cases, the Welia Health team spends ample time with each surgical patient to review potential risks and complications, including those related to the surgery and others that can occur over time following surgery.
What can I expect from surgery?
If both the Welia Health orthopedic specialist and patient determine that surgical treatment is the best approach, the orthopedic specialist guides the patient through the entire process to prepare them for what to expect before, during and following the procedure, including the first steps following surgery and the full recovery process.
For most patients, a walker or crutches will be used to aid in the first steps after surgery, which often occur the same day as surgery. While some pain is normal during recovery, medications are often used on a short-term basis to aid recovery. Physical therapy, which will start the day following surgery, strengthens the muscles around the knee and helps regain range of motion.
A patient’s active engagement in their recovery process is critical to long-term success. The importance of following recommendations on nutrition, exercise and medications cannot be overstated.
The majority of patients are able to perform daily activities more easily after knee replacement surgery. Most people can expect their knee replacement to last for many years, giving them an improved quality of life with less pain, along with improved motion and strength.
A referral may be required from your primary care provider, please check with your insurance carrier.