When standing up is more difficult than it used to be or you’re wearing a brace for every trip to the grocery store, you might be wondering if it’s time for a knee replacement. While it’s not the go-to solution for all knee-related problems, there are reasons to consider if knee arthroplasty is in your future.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed in the United States each year, with that number steadily increasing due to an aging population, an increase in obesity and an increase in the number of people with knee arthritis.
Keep reading to learn more about common knee replacement types, if you’re a candidate for one and how long they last after the procedure is performed.
Knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which the damaged parts of the knee joint are removed and replaced with artificial parts or prostheses. The prostheses are typically made of metal and plastic and are designed to mimic the function of a healthy knee joint.
It’s typically only considered after all, or most nonsurgical options have been exhausted and if your quality of life is significantly impacted by the pain.
There are several types of knee replacement surgery available, including:
Knee replacement surgery is typically recommended for individuals with severe knee pain or disability caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other similar conditions. Not everyone with knee arthritis will need a knee replacement, and the decision is typically based on the balance between the pain and disability caused by the knee problem and the risks and benefits of the surgery. Your doctor will consider your overall health and your goals for treatment.
Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for knee replacements, which is a degenerative condition that causes the cartilage in the knee joint to wear away. Rheumatoid arthritis, another main reason for replacement, is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints.
Other conditions that can lead to knee replacement surgery include trauma or injury to the knee joint that has caused damage to the cartilage or bones, gout, a type of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint, osteonecrosis, where the bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply and pseudogout, a type of arthritis that causes a buildup of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in the joint.
Signs that may indicate a need for a knee replacement are:
It is possible to perform knee replacement surgery on both knees simultaneously, a procedure known as bilateral knee replacement. This approach can be beneficial for some patients, particularly those with severe arthritis in both knees or those who are unable to perform daily activities due to the pain in both knees.
However, bilateral knee replacement is considered a more complex surgery requiring longer recovery. It also requires a higher level of postoperative care and an increased risk of complications. Therefore, the decision to perform bilateral knee replacement will depend on the specific condition of the patient’s knees, the patient’s overall health and lifestyle, and the surgeon’s experience and expertise.
It’s important to note that most patients opt to have one knee replacement done at a time, with the second one done a few months after the first one. This is done to minimize the risk of complications and allow recovery before the second knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon will discuss the options most suitable for you based on your individual needs and circumstances.
Alternative remedies that may be tried to manage knee pain and improve the function of the knee joint may include:
The effectiveness of alternative remedies can vary from person to person. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting alternative remedies. Some of these may interact with medications or may not be appropriate for individuals with certain medical conditions.
The lifespan of a knee replacement can vary depending on the type of implant used, the patient’s activity level, and the patient’s weight, but a typical knee replacement can last between 15-20 years. Knee replacements are not meant to last forever; revision surgery may be needed at some point. Your surgeon will closely monitor you post-operatively, and if any signs of wear and tear or looseness in the implant are detected, revision surgery may be recommended.
Some knee replacements can last even longer, up to 25-30 years, while some may need to be revised earlier. For example, if the patient is overweight, engages in high-impact activities or has a high level of physical activity, the implant may experience more wear and tear, leading to a shorter lifespan. Conversely, if the patient can maintain a healthy weight and if the patient’s activity level is low, the implant may last longer.
Overall, knee replacement surgery can be a highly effective treatment for knee pain and disability caused by knee joint conditions, and the goal of the surgery is to improve the patient’s quality of life, but the patient should be aware of the fact that a knee replacement is not the only option and may not be for everyone.
Even if your knee shows symptoms of needing a replacement, not everyone is a good candidate for replacement surgery, perhaps due to certain medical conditions or other factors, including:
While these factors are not absolute contraindications for knee replacement surgery, each case is evaluated individually. Your doctor will consider the condition of your knee and your overall health and lifestyle.
Improvements in surgical techniques, implant materials and post-operative rehabilitation have allowed for better outcomes and a quicker return to normal activities, even in younger patients.
The recovery process can vary depending on the individual and the type of surgery performed, but physical therapy is usually a crucial part of the recovery process. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure the best outcome for your surgery. Recovery time can vary, but most people can return to normal activities within 3-6 months after surgery and typically includes:
Knee joint replacement can profoundly impact your quality of life overall, but there is much to consider. To learn more or find out if you are a candidate for total knee replacement, contact the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio today at 419-222-6622.
Statements With Dates Prior to 4/10
Statements With Dates 4/11 or After