Knee Replacement

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Overview

Both men and women commonly have problems with their joints degenerating over time and causing pain, loss of movement, and a lower activity level. Knee joints especially can become damaged in the young and older, and are caused by sports injuries, degenerative joint diseases like arthritis, or debilitation from old age. Knee arthroplasty, or knee replacement surgery, is an orthopedic procedure that replaces the damaged joint by cutting away bone and cartilage and replacing it with an alloy metal and plastic-made artificial joint. Depending on the patient’s age, weight, and health, the knee replacement can help give back the knee’s range of motion, strength, and support.

Who are Good Candidates?

Many surgeons only recommend knee replacement surgery for patients who have exhausted all other methods of therapy first. Usually this means patients have spent a while trying to rehabilitate the range of movement and pain in their knee or knees. Often these methods include one or more of the following: weight loss, physical therapy and strengthening exercises, anti-inflammatory joint injections, and osteotomy (cutting the bone to change its alignment).

The ideal candidate for knee replacement surgery has significant pain in one or both of their knees and has difficulty walking, moving their legs, climbing stairs, or elevating their legs. Whether the pain was caused by sports injuries, old age, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis, all methods of reliving pain have not yet significantly worked. Some patients have deformities in their knees which worsened over time, or have worn down their joints prematurely.

Patients should be in generally good health and at a stable weight, have lost some or most of their excess weight, have good blood flow, and do not have any infections in or around their knees. Lastly, patients should be aware of the physical rehabilitation needed after the procedure, and maintain a positive outcome for their recovery.

The Surgical Procedure

Knee replacement surgery is either performed under general anesthesia, meaning the patient will be fully asleep or epidural anesthesia, which numbs the patient below the waist. The method of anesthesia is determined on an individual basis. Once the 8 to 10 inch incision is made on top of the knee, the surgeon removes damaged bone from the thigh and shin bones, or wherever damage has occurred. After damaged cartilage is removed, the surgeon will reshape the patient’s bones to accept the artificial joint. The ends of the joints are then attached to the bones, and the surgeon then fits the joint together. Lastly, the surgeon moves the knee to ensure proper function, and finally closes the incision. The entire procedure takes about 2 hours to complete.

Recovery and Aftercare

Patients usually require 3 to 5 days of hospital care, to which the patient is told to move their legs to increase blood flow and decrease swelling. Physical therapy is usually administered the day after surgery and patients usually participate in physical therapy for some weeks afterward outside of the hospital. Physical therapy generally lasts 1 to 2 months, depending on the severity of the patient’s loss of range of motion and pain. Full recovery is about 6 weeks after surgery, to which the patient can return to activities they could not experience even before surgery. The joints are made from alloy metals and high-grade surgical plastic, and usually last for about 10 - 20 years, but with new technology and surgical procedures, joints can probably last even longer.

 

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Av. Morones Prieto #3000 Pte. Col. Los Doctores. CP 64710 Monterrey, Nuevo León, México.
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Procedure Details