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10 Answers to Questions About Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement has become a common orthopaedic procedure these days. When cartilage inside the knee joint starts to break away, the person experience pain which limits the motion. There are a number of options to treat a painful knee. Medications and physiotherapy are the first to-go treatment options, but in severe cases, a knee replacement is recommended. 

Total knee replacement surgery will involve replacing the parts of the knee joint – the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) with an implant. A plastic bearing is then inserted between the bones where cartilage normally exist.

Below are the most common questions and answers that knee patients want to know about knee replacement surgery – 


  • What causes the knee cartilage to break down? 


There are multiple numbers of reasons that can cause knee pain and cartilage to tear. Some of the most common ones are arthritis, an injury to the knee, inflammatory arthritis, and risk factors such as obesity.


  • How is a suitable candidate selected for a knee replacement surgery?


Patients who are able to walk on level ground without much difficulty might not be good candidates for knee replacement surgery. Patients in their late fifties or older may be better candidates for knee replacement surgery. However, with improved medical technology, younger patients are as good candidates for the surgery, if needed. People who do not respond well to the nonsurgical procedures and are thus considered for a surgery to relieve pain. Before going for a  knee replacement surgery, it is generally recommended physiotherapy and balanced diet. Due to obesity, the excess weight puts a lot of stress on the knees, and reducing weight will help in managing the symptoms even before surgery is needed. Targeted physical therapy and exercise help in improving and strengthening the muscles of the knee, resulting in fewer pain symptoms. 


  • I’ve lost weight and did physical therapy, the pain is still there, what now?


When all the non-operative options do not work, patients should consult an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the knee replacement surgery. During the consultation with the doctor, the usual things discussed include the symptoms, a couple of strength and ligamental tests, a few X-rays will be advised. The doctor will then discuss the benefits and risks of the surgery.


  • What’s the difference between partial knee replacement and total knee replacement? 


A partial knee replacement is performed on patients that might be having intact ligaments and pain is isolated to the inner portion of the knee. If the surgery is done on that inner a portion of the knee, known as the medial compartment, can result in relief of symptoms. The patient might not need an entire knee joint’s surgery also, thus it is called partial knee replacement. All types of knee replacements surgeries involve a resurfacing or replacement of the knee’s cartilage. Which type of surgery is required usually depends on the amount of damage that has already occurred to the knee. It is decided by the treating surgeon. The patient is explained about the type of surgery beforehand. 


  • Are there different surgical techniques for total knee replacement?


 Yes, there are a number of surgical techniques that can be used. They include robotic-assisted surgery and computer-navigated surgery. The advanced minimally invasive surgery allows the patient to heal faster, have shorter hospitalization, less post-operative pain, and discomfort.


  • What is the total amount of time it takes to complete the surgery?


It usually takes around 1 hour for the surgery to be completed. The amount of time that the patient requires staying in the hospital roughly depends on their recovery. General patients are able to recover well in 48-64 hours after the surgery and are then discharged. Other than this, they are recommended to rest for about 4 weeks post-surgery, with minimal movement. However, this time depends on the technique used for surgery. 


  • What are the side effects of the surgery?


Every surgery has a risk. Around 1% of all the healthy patients might experience a cardiovascular event, including a heart attack or stroke. Lesser number of people might end up having an infection after a knee replacement surgery. These side effects are pretty uncommon and can be easily managed. One bigger problem after the surgery is the buyer’s remorse. People end up still having pain in their knees, and thinking that getting the surgery done was a bad idea. The doctors usually categorize the patients before and give them appropriate counseling to manage these outcomes better. 


  • How long does it take to recover after knee replacement surgery in India?


Every human has a different recovery time, but for most of the patients, the doctors expect them to start walking in around 4 weeks after the surgery. The initial walking is still supported by cane or walkers. They are advised not to bend their knee to or beyond 90 degrees.


  • Will the patient be able to get back to a physically active lifestyle? 


Most patients report that their knee feels better than how it felt before the surgery. Low impacting activities such as walking, hiking, biking, or playing golf are usually encouraged. Activities which are high impact including basketball or running are told to be avoided. 


  • What is the success rate of the surgery? 


Around 85 to 90 percent of all knee replacement surgeries performed are successful. These implants remain good for approximately 10 to 15 years, depending on the activity level of the patient. After these stipulated times, a revision surgery might also be advised.


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