Did you know that the knee is the largest joint in the body? The knee is actually a hinge joint that consists of three parts, the lower end of the thigh bone known as the femur which rotates on the upper end of the shin bone, called the tibia, and the knee cap (patella) which slides in a groove on the end of the femur.
Arthritis and other injuries can damage the knee bone surfaces as well as the surrounding cartilage and ligaments which can cause pain and inhibit function.
Making the decision to undergo total knee replacement surgery requires careful consultation with your doctor in order to make the best decision that will benefit your health.
This surgery, known as arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that’s conducted in order to either reconstruct or replace a joint.
Knee replacement surgery involves metal and plastic parts that are used to cap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint as well as the kneecap. This type of surgery is commonly done for those with severe arthritis or knee injury. Most candidates are between the ages of 50 and 80.
An orthopedic surgeon will perform the knee replacement surgery. However, before the procedure even occurs, the surgeon will review your loved one’s medical history and perform a physical examination in order to assess his or her knee’s range of motion, strength and stability.
Additionally, X-rays are used to determine the extent of the knee damage.
It’s important to know that this type of surgery requires anesthesia. You and your loved one will meet with an anesthesiologist to review your loved one’s health history as well as run pre-admission testing to determine which anesthetic will work best.
There are two common types of anesthesia: general anesthesia, in which a patient is unconscious during the operation, or spinal or epidural anesthesia where the patient is awake but cannot feel any pain from the waist down.
Prior to surgery your loved one may be advised to stop taking certain medications or will be prescribed new medications such as a blood thinner to ensure the surgery goes smoothly.
Before the surgery, your loved one’s doctor or physical therapist may recommend a muscle-strengthening program. Studies have shown that patients who begin physical therapy to strengthen their muscles prior to surgery recover at a faster rate because the added muscle helps their bodies adapt more quickly to an implant.
As much as knee replacement surgery is physical, it’s also mental too. As with any surgery, recovery takes time and isn’t always easy.
That’s why it’s important to prepare physically and mentally. With the proper information and good therapy, your loved one can increase the odds for a faster and smoother recovery.
Contact your loved one’s primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon if you would like more information about knee replacement surgery.