What is a total knee arthroplasty?
Very basically total knee arthroplasty or, as is commonly known, knee replacement surgery is the replacement of a badly diseased knee joint with an artificial joint. In other words the patient undergoes a knee reconstruction. The artificial joint is made of special metal alloys and high-grade plastics.
2 Who would need a total knee arthroplasty?
Knee replacement surgery is used mainly to help relieve the pain and increase mobility of the knee joint badly affected by arthritis. It is also used to correct deformities.
When all other methods of nonsurgical treatments have failed only then would knee surgery be considered. Some of the nonsurgical treatments include using anti-inflammatory drugs, losing weight, lifestyle changes and even using a cane to assist mobility.
It is used as a last resort.
3 What are the risks of total knee arthroplasty?
In the United States about 150,000 knee reconstructions are performed each year. Out of that number only about 1 to 2% of people will suffer from any serious complications.
Any surgical procedure poses risks such as infection, blood clots, damage to nerves even heart attack and strokes and that is why before undergoing total knee replacement you’ll be thoroughly assessed by your surgeon to minimize the likelihood of any of these sort of complications.
Some patients experience minor complications after total knee arthroscopy such as a feeling of stiffness in the knee. In extremely rare cases the knee joint has become infected which necessitates further surgery to remove the artificial joint followed by a course of antibiotics. A new knee joint is then fitted when the infection has ceased. This is extremely rare and should not be considered a reason to not have a total knee arthroplasty.
4 What is the success rate of a total knee reconstruction?
As mentioned above only about 2% of people suffer any complications from the surgery. That means that about 98% of patients will have a good to excellent outcome. This outcome would mean the patient suffers little to no pain, has increased movement and range of motion in the knee joint and is able to walk more than a mile unaided.
After 10 years about 90% of recipients should expect to have continued satisfactory use of the 1reconstructed knee.
5 How long does the pain last after knee replacement surgery?
If arthritis was the cause for the knee replacement surgery then the pain from arthritis usually disappears immediately. In most cases there is a noticeable reduction in pain level within one to two days after the operation.
It’s not uncommon for the pain from the surgical procedure can last for up to three weeks with noticeable reduction after the first couple of days and a progressive reduction from then on.
6 How long before full benefits of a total knee arthroplasty will be felt?
Total knee replacement surgery is a major surgical procedure on a load bearing joint and so one shouldn’t expect to be able to return to their previous lifestyle immediately. Knee surgery recovery takes time. It can take up to three months to regain most of the strength and good range of motion in the affected knee joint. This will continue to improve for up to a year after the operation when it would be expected that full benefit would be achieved.
Arthroplasty surgery, for most patients, is life-changing. I feel certain if you asked the question “what is a total knee arthroplasty?” to someone who has had the surgery, they would agree with that statement.