If your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury, simple activities such as walking or climbing stairs may be difficult for you. You may feel pain even while sitting or lying down.
If non-surgical treatments like medications and walking supports no longer help, you may want to consider total knee replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help you resume normal activities.
Causes of knee pain:
Osteoarthritis. This is an age-related type of "wear and tear" arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age or older, but it can occur in younger people as well. The cartilage that cushions the knee bones softens and wears away. The bones then rub against each other, causing knee pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a disease in which the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and thick. This chronic inflammation can damage cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of a group of disorders called "inflammatory arthritis."
Post-traumatic osteoarthritis. This can develop after a serious knee injury. Fractures of the bones surrounding the knee or tears of the knee ligaments can damage joint cartilage over time, causing knee pain and limiting knee function.
Is the Total Knee Prosthesis Right for You?
The decision to have total knee replacement surgery should be a collaborative decision between you, your family, and your orthopedic surgeon. Your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for a complete evaluation to determine if you could benefit from this surgery.
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. People who benefit from total knee replacement surgery often have:
Severe knee pain or stiffness with limited daily activities, including walking, climbing stairs, sitting, and getting up from a chair.
Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, both day and night.
Chronic inflammation and swelling of the knee that does not improve with rest or medication.
Deformity of the knee (with an arched out or in).
They do not experience substantial improvement with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, hyaluronic acid, and physical therapy.
Candidates for surgery
There are no absolute weight or age restrictions for total knee replacement. Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient's pain and disability, not age. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are between 50 and 80 years old, but orthopedic surgeons evaluate the patients individually. Total knee replacements have been successfully performed at all ages, from the young adolescent with juvenile arthritis to the elderly patient with degenerative arthritis.
The complication rate after total knee replacement is low. Serious complications, such as infection of the knee joint, occur in less than 2% of patients. Major medical complications, such as heart attack or embolism, occur even less frequently. Certain chronic diseases can increase the potential for complications. Although rare, when these complications do occur they can prolong or limit full recovery. Discuss your concerns frankly with your orthopedic surgeon before surgery.
An important factor in deciding to undergo total knee replacement surgery is what the intervention can and cannot do.
More than 90% of patients who undergo total knee replacement surgery experience a drastic reduction in knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities in daily life. But total knee replacement will not allow you to do more than you did before developing osteoarthritis.
Excessive activity or weight can accelerate this normal wear and tear and can cause the knee replacement to become loose and painful. Therefore, most surgeons advise against high-impact activities such as running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports for the rest of their lives after surgery. Normal activities after a full knee prosthesis include unlimited walking, swimming, golfing, driving cars, light hiking, biking, ballroom dancing, and other low-impact sports.
Extend the life of your knee implant
Currently, more than 90% of total knee prostheses continue to work well 15 years after surgery. Following the instructions of your orthopedic surgeon after surgery and taking care to protect your knee replacement and your general health are important ways that you can contribute to the ultimate success of your surgery.