Knee Replacement – Post Surgical Care

Problems with knee joints are becoming more common, which particularly affects a significant number of people in India. However, the incidence may vary based on various factors like age, gender, lifestyle, etc. Knee joint problems can affect anyone and are more prevalent in older adults.

Knee pain interferes with certain daily activities like walking, sitting, and climbing stairs, making it difficult to perform essential tasks like moving here and there. Initially, most people try non-surgical treatment options such as pain medicine, steroid injections, physical therapy, muscle-strengthening exercises, nutritional supplements, etc., and some may succeed in getting positive outcomes.  

However, if the knee joint problem is severe, traditional treatment options might not work. In such cases, knee replacement surgery will be the treatment of choice. It is also called knee arthroplasty, and it involves replacing the damaged parts of the knee joint with prosthetic parts. A knee replacement can restore lost functions, even in severely damaged knee joints. 

When is it appropriate to consider knee replacement surgery?

Osteoarthritis is one of the main causes that can damage your knee joint. Sometimes people with this condition opt for knee replacement surgery. However, after trying every non-surgical treatment, if your knee problem persists and prevents you from doing your activities, then knee replacement surgery is considered.

One can regain their lost movement and get relief from knee pain after knee replacement surgery. 

Below are some common medical conditions that may lead to a knee replacement:

  • Degeneration of bones, especially in older people
  • Persistent knee pain which becomes worse over time
  • Stiff and swollen knees
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Previous knee injuries
  • Meniscal tears
  • Ligament tears
  • Bowed legs
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • Wear and tear of knee joints due to overuse
  • Trauma 

Early diagnosis and treatment for a severe knee problem are very important for higher success rates. Early knee surgery improves your functioning and will have a good impact in the future.

Who is suitable for knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery can be either partial knee replacement (which replaces only the damaged knee parts) or total knee replacement (which replaces the whole knee joint), depending on the severity and damage caused to your knee joint. If you have a knee problem and want to know whether you are an ideal candidate, you may need to undergo some evaluation tests ordered by the surgeon. 

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged knee components, like bones, cartilage on the shin, and kneecap, with prosthetic parts. These prosthetic parts are made of metal, plastic, or polymers and function like natural joints. Depending on the knee joint damage and the results from tests, an orthopaedic surgeon may consider a partial knee replacement or a total knee replacement. 

The lifetime of these prosthetic knee parts will be between 15 to 25 years. 

On average, these prosthetics last 20 years for 9 out of 10 people. However, your age and the level of physical activity you engage in your daily life might affect the life of prosthetics.

Post Knee Replacement Care

After knee replacement surgery, the stage of recovery and rehabilitation is very important for good outcomes. Ignoring the post-surgical instructions from the orthopaedic surgeon can make recovery challenging. So take your medication in time, schedule your physiotherapy and nutrition diet properly, and never miss your follow-up appointments. Following surgery, you will be assisted to walk for a short distance. However, it may take several weeks to get back to your previous range of motion.

During recovery, move around carefully to avoid damage to the newly installed knee components. Create an ideal environment around you so that you can move around easily, avoiding trips and falls. Following the surgery, movement is very important to enhance the range of motion. You may need walker sticks or crutches for a few days to weeks to walk around after surgery. 

  • Walk with the support of sticks or your family members until you can walk on your own.
  • Be cautious when you wear or remove your pants. It is best to avoid tight-fitting clothes because they pressurise the knee joint and limit movement.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for a long time, and ensure your sitting position doesn’t strain the operated knee. Don’t twist, stretch, or bend the operated knee.
  • Be cautious while using the washroom. Make necessary arrangements so that you can move smoothly.
  • Don’t climb stairs or heights until you are cleared by the doctors.
  • Be cautious with your sleeping position as well; lie flat on your back and keep your knee position straight.
  • Avoid driving until you recover completely.
  • Your physiotherapist plays an anchor role in your recovery process because he creates a plan for your physiotherapy and strengthening exercises, which help you build strength and improve your range of motion.

Some other tips to remember during the recovery after a knee replacement surgery include avoiding standing on your operated leg for a while, not twisting your knee, and making sure your toes always point forward. Avoid jerking or skidding on the operated leg because it could damage the replaced parts. Don’t lift or carry heavy weights.

Recovery After Knee Replacement Surgery

Recovery after knee replacement surgery depends on many factors, and it is different for everyone. Some people may recover within a few weeks, while others take months to recover. However, in most cases, people return to their work within three months after replacement. To regain full knee function, it may take anywhere from six to twelve months after surgery. Patients with certain health conditions, like diabetes, may take more time to recover.

If you have any knee problems, don’t live in pain; consult Dr. Ajay Tiwari, one of the best knee replacement surgeons in Hyderabad. He has more than 17 years of experience as an orthopaedic knee specialist and an expert in treating severe knee problems. 

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