There are many factors that can contribute to diminished function of the knee joint, including gradual wear and tear as well as injury, particularly as a result of recreational or athletic activities. While we emphasize conservative, minimally invasive treatment and preventive measures as much as possible, if your knee condition does not improve with non-surgical methods our physicians may recommend surgical intervention.
Regardless of the reasons that led to requiring knee replacement surgery, it is important for you to understand the available options and the typical process leading up to and following the operation. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons will discuss all the risks and benefits of your treatment, and he or she will listen to any concerns and answer your questions prior to the surgery.
Knee Replacement Surgery
The method of knee replacement selected for your condition will be determined based on several indicators, including your unique anatomical needs, lifestyle, and current health. Your physicians will recommend an approach and detail the process to you during the consultation. There are several surgical methods available, including arthroscopy, cartilage harvesting, Osteotomy, partial or unicompartmental replacement, and total knee replacement.
A minimally invasive surgical approach, arthroscopy is rarely utilized for an arthritic knee joint but may be appropriate for certain cases. During the operation, the surgeon will make a small incision and flush the knee with water to remove loose pieces of cartilage.
Partial or Unicompartmental Knee Replacement
In this approach, only a portion of the knee will be replaced, such as the kneecap to femur joint or the femur to tibia joint. A less invasive option than total knee replacement, the partial replacement allows you to retain as much healthy tissue as possible, typically involves less downtime, and requires fewer mechanical parts. To determine if you are a qualified candidate, please speak with one of our skilled orthopaedic physicians.
This procedure is designed to realign the knee by cutting the bone and modifying the way the bones and tissue fit together. This option typically will be utilized for younger patients with misaligned knee joints and demanding lifestyle activities, though a total knee replacement will often be selected instead due to the likelihood of a better outcome, especially in the case of osteoarthritis.
Though not appropriate for advanced arthritic conditions of the knee, cartilage harvesting may be useful for mild to moderate knee arthritis. The procedure involves harvesting cartilage cells from healthy areas and grafting them into the areas of disease.
Total Knee Replacement
While there are many approaches to knee replacements, the total knee replacement remains the gold standard option if you cannot find relief through non-surgical treatment. During the operation, the joint is replaced with an artificial one made of metal and plastic. Studies have shown this modality offers up to 95 percent pain relief and typically provides long-term functionality.
Total Knee Replacement Recovery
Once you have determined that a total knee replacement is the appropriate option, your physician may recommend a series of measures to complete prior to the operation, which may include weight loss, exercise, medication, injections, or bracing. He or she will also discuss with you the type of implant that will be utilized, as there are a wide variety available, including rotating platform and gender specific models.
Our innovative rapid recovery program features advanced techniques that often can speed healing and reduce discomfort during your recovery process. Your surgeon will provide details after your operation and adjust the methods to suit your needs. Following surgery, you will stay in the hospital between one and three days, depending on your unique experience and health requirements. Many patients will be discharged directly home, but others may be discharged to inpatient rehab. Your destination should be determined prior to the procedure so you can plan in advance for what to expect. We recommend researching several rehab facilities and having two or three alternates in case of conflicts due to space or insurance eligibility.
Your physician will inform you prior to the operation as well as after when you can shower, walk, and return to normal activities. In most cases, you should keep the wound dry for approximately five to seven days. Your surgeon may utilize waterproof dressings that can allow you to shower during this period. If not, you must keep the area free of water. The bandages typically will be removed about 7-10 days after surgery, though you should still avoid soaking the incision for approximately three to four weeks or as long as your doctor recommends.
You will develop increasing mobility during rehabilitation and practice sitting, standing, and walking during physical therapy, typically occurring twice daily. You will be assigned exercises to help strengthen the leg and increase mobility and flexibility, though you will likely need a cane for a few weeks or more, depending on your progress. You should not drive for the first month after surgery, unless you had surgery on your left leg and operate an automatic transmission vehicle, in which case you can begin driving when comfortable. You may return to work when comfortable and the physician suggests you are ready, though demanding duties must be postponed for three months or more, until fully healed.
If you have additional questions about knee replacement surgery, of if you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons, please contact our office today.