Will you be having one of the most common elective surgeries in the coming new year? Knee replacements, along with hip replacements, are the most common types of elective surgery according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The organization estimates that by 2030, about 11 million Americans will have either a hip or knee replacement.
According to Garrett Snyder, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Banner Health in Colorado and Wyoming, your physician will likely try conservative treatment options first, such as physical therapy, steroid or viscosupplementation injections, anti-inflammatories, bracing the knee or suggesting weight loss. If these treatment methods don’t work and you experience the following symptoms, Dr. Snyder noted you may be a good candidate for knee replacement:
- Severe knee stiffness or pain that prevents or limits everyday activities
- Difficulty walking, climbing stairs or getting in and out of a chair
- Knee pain even while resting or sleeping
- Swelling or inflammation that doesn’t get better with rest or medication
- Prolonged use of anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections or physical therapy that does not result in improvements to your knee
Knee damage causing the issues above can result from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis or an injury to the knee.
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Partial or Total Knee Replacement: What’s the Difference?
Based on the level of damage to your knee and your symptoms, your doctor will discuss either a partial knee replacement or a total knee replacement. “If only one or two out of the three compartments of the knee are affected, a partial replacement can be considered,” said Dr. Snyder.
- Partial knee replacement: In this procedure, damaged tissue and bone in one part of your damaged knee joint is replaced – either the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or the kneecap. The removed areas are then replaced with a prosthetic.
- Total knee replacement: During this surgery, also called knee arthroplasty, the surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from all parts of your knee – inside, outside and surface – and replaces them with a surface of metal and plastic.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 90% of total knee replacements are still functioning well 15 years after the surgery.
After the Surgery
An important factor in maintaining functionality after knee replacement surgery is following your doctor’s instructions for protecting your knee replacement and taking care of your general health.
In the early stages following surgery, you’ll be given medications to help manage your surgery pain so that you can quickly become mobile. In most cases, your doctor will want you to start knee movement, weight-bearing and physical therapy the day of or day after your surgery. “Early motion and strengthening are highly encouraged to avoid problems such as stiffness and blood clots,” said Dr. Snyder.
You’ll begin working with a physical therapist who will teach you exercises to strengthen your knee and restore movement. If you’re diligent about doing your physical therapy exercises, you should be able to resume most normal activities 3 to 6 weeks following surgery.
Banner Health has some of the most skilled orthopedic surgeons performing knee replacement surgeries. Visit bannerhealth.com to learn more.