Breaking down the basics of Total Knee Replacement surgery

A Total Knee Replacement Surgery (also known as Arthroplasty) replaces a damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint. Adults of any age can be considered for a knee replacement, though it is common in ages 50- 80, and now even in younger people.

The first step in this procedure is to ask your surgeon if you even need a Total Knee Replacement Surgery. Even if the pain is significant and the X-rays show advanced arthritis of the joint, the first treatment is nearly always non-operative. This includes introducing an exercise regimen, medication, or bracing. If symptoms persist, then you could consider surgery.

Who should get it?

Knee replacement works best in patients with severe arthritis in the entire knee. This is most commonly seen in older patients but can occur in younger patients after infection or significant injury. You may be offered surgery if you have severe pain, swelling and stiffness in your knee joint and mobility are reduced or your knee pain is severe.

What are the types of Knee Replacement surgeries?

Total Knee Replacement (TKR) Surgery in which both of your knee joints are replaced.

Partial Knee Replacement (UKR – Unicondylar Knee Replacement) Surgery in which only one of your knee joint is replaced in a smaller operation with a shorter hospital stay and recovery period.

What is the post-operative recovery procedure?

Post-operative pain is well managed with the use of many aids including self-administered analgesics pumps. The person is mostly made to stand and walk on the first day after the surgery and taught how to manage their daily activities at home after discharge. The average duration for staying in the hospital is 5 to 8 days. However, the stay time can vary. Walkers or crutches are generally needed at first and a physiotherapist will teach some exercises. The stitches are removed after 10 to 14 days.

How is life after Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

It takes around 3 weeks to 3 months for the knee to recover to a point where one is back to full activity though most people can return to their desk jobs in about 4 – 6 weeks.

The author is Dr. Rajesh Singh, Joint Replacement Surgeon at Narayana Health, Jamshedpur.

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