Getting Back to Normal After Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which damaged, diseased or worn parts of a knee joint are replaced with artificial components referred to as prostheses. The procedure is of immense benefit to individuals whose knees have been incapacitated by knee injury, deformity, instability or diseases such as chronic inflammation with severe pain and restriction of movements.
It is carried out by specialist doctors who remove the ends of the thigh bone called the femur and the shin bone referred to as the tibia, usually with the kneecap called the patella. They are replaced with artificial parts called prostheses which are cemented into position after exposing the joint. The joint is opened up by separating the muscles and ligaments around the joint. The prostheses are usually made from high-grade plastics, metal alloys and polymers.
It is a major surgery, and hence, it is recommended when other treatment options have not had beneficial effects. Modern knee replacement techniques attempt to simulate the natural knee's ability to roll and glide as it bends. The procedure helps relieve pain and joint mobility so that the individual may return to full and active life after surgery. Knee replacement surgery can be total or partial depending on the condition of the knee. The type of surgery therefore has a direct impact on rate of recovery. Partial knee replacement entails shorter hospital stay and faster recovery since the operation is smaller than total knee replacement surgery.
Full recovery may take a few months and would depend on the state of health of the individual and the type of surgery performed, but most people are able to return to their daily routine within two or three months. In order to ensure faster recovery, it is advisable to remain as active as possible before the surgery. Physiotherapists are usually in a position to recommend suitable exercises for this. Obese individuals need to lose some weight and lower their body mass index before the operation.
Many surgeries now operate standard enhanced recovery programmes which assist people in getting back to normal faster after major surgery. Pain management is a key component of an enhanced programme for knee replacement surgery. Some surgeons insert a tiny plastic tube called a catheter into the the knee at the time of the surgery. This catheter is used to administer additional dose of local anaesthetic into the joint for about 24- 36 hours after the surgery to reduce post-operative pain and discomfort. Various other types of pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications are required for some time after surgery. Minimal invasive surgical techniques are also employed by some surgeons during the procedure to reduce soft tissue disruption around the knees and minimise postoperative pain.