Knee replacement surgery is medically known as arthroplasty. It means that a worn, damaged or diseased knee is replaced with an artificial joint. Although this sounds incredibly complicated, it is actually quite a routine operation and it most often found in people who have arthritis. In fact, in the UK for instance, some 70,000 arthroplasties are performed each year. Generally, the procedure is most common in people over the age of 65. A new knee should last around two decades, particularly if proper care and attention is taken to not strain it.
The Different Types of Knee Surgery
There are two main types of knee surgery. Individual patients will be assessed to ensure the right type of surgery is recommended. The two types are:
• TKR – Total Knee Replacement – where both sides of the joint of the knee are replaced.
• PKR – Partial (half) Knee Replacement – where only one side of the joint of the knee is replaced. This is a smaller operation, requiring shorter hospitalization and a shorter period of knee replacement recovery.
Why Do People Need Knee Replacement Surgery
Osteoarthritis is the most commonly found reason for knee replacement surgery to be needed. However, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, hemophilia and knee injuries are other reasons. Do remember that knee surgery is major surgery, even if it is a routine procedure. So, a medical professional will always try steroid injections and physiotherapy before recommending knee surgery. Only if mobility is severely impaired or pain is extreme and neither are improving will surgery be offered.
There are a number of reasons to be offered this type of surgery. For instance:
• If the patient experiences severe pain, stiffness and/or swelling in the joint of the knee is experienced and mobility is significantly reduced.
• The pain is so severe that quality of life is impacted.
• Everyday tasks, like doing the shopping, walking up and down stairs or getting in and out of a bath, becomes difficult or impossible.
• Working or having a social life is impossible.
Is Knee Replacement Surgery for Me?
Regardless of your age, you can be considered for knee replacement surgery. However, it is most often offered to elderly people, because younger people are more likely to be physically active and wear the new joint out. Younger people are usually given a titanium knee replacement, because it tends to last longer. Basically, the sooner you have knee replacement surgery, the likelier it is that you will need another replacement later. However, it should be done before the joint of the knee actually becomes too stiff. The procedure is most commonly performed on those between 60 and 80 years of age, where it is usually referred to as zimmer knee replacement. However, it is important to be physically well enough to be able to go through major surgery and to be able to rehabilitate after the surgery. There are a number of excellent tips to help you prepare for surgery and to help you prepare for after knee replacement, which should be provided to you by your medical professional.
Knee Replacement Surgery Risks
Although knee implant surgery is common and routine, there is always a risk of complications. These risks are quite minimal, but you must be aware of them nevertheless. The most common knee replacement complications include:
• Knee stiffness
• Wound infection
• Deep infections within the joint, which requires more surgery
• Unexpected bleeding with the knee joint
• Damage to the arteries, ligaments or nerve around the knee joints
• Knee resurfacing
• DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) or blood clots
Very rarely, the surgery leaves someone with an unstable knee, which would require more surgery in order to correct it. Most surgeons will now opt for minimally invasive knee replacement, including robotic surgery, which makes the procedure safer and the recovery period quicker.