Understanding Medical Problems

A Total Knee Replacement Could Be The Solution For Your Arthritis Pain

Arthritis in your knee can dramatically affect your daily life. If your knee hurts so much that you can't bear your weight on it or walk, then your ability to work and have a social life is impacted. Your doctor will probably try several approaches to manage your knee pain, but eventually, you may need a total knee replacement. Here's a look at this surgical procedure.

Why Knee Surgery Is Often Needed For Arthritis 

When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your knee joint gradually wears down. The cartilage acts as a cushion and shock absorber between the bones in your knee. When the cartilage wears away, bone can grind on bone and cause a lot of pain. This is different from a knee injury that heals itself over time. The damage from arthritis gets worse over time instead.

In the early stages, other treatments can be effective, but once a significant amount of the cartilage is worn away, surgery could be the best option. Surgery can help a knee that's moved out of alignment due to arthritis, and it helps reduce pain by replacing the cartilage with artificial materials.

What A Total Knee Replacement Entails

When you have knee surgery, the doctor opens up your knee and removes all the remaining fragments of cartilage. The top portion of each bone is removed and replaced with metal caps, and your kneecap might be resurfaced if needed. Then, a plastic spacer is positioned between the metal caps to replace the function of your cartilage. The plastic allows the metal to slide across it easily so that you can bend and stretch your knee.

A total knee replacement is usually done as an inpatient procedure that requires a few days in the hospital depending on your general health and how quickly you recover. You'll begin gentle physical therapy movements soon after the surgery to prevent blood clots and to start the recovery process. Your leg may be placed in a device that provides continuous motion for your leg. The device slowly bends and stretches your knee while it's in an elevated position to increase circulation and reduce swelling.

How Long It Takes To Recover

Recovering from knee replacement surgery could take several weeks. Full healing could take up to a year. You'll need to prepare your home for recovery before you have the surgery because getting around and taking care of yourself after surgery will be difficult. You'll do exercises every day and gradually start to use your knee for walking.

Once your knee has healed, you should have far less pain when you walk and bear weight. However, your activities may be limited permanently. Your doctor may advise against high-impact exercises such as running, so the artificial joint isn't damaged.