When a person is dealing with a stiff, painful knee which makes it impossible to execute even the simplest of actions and other treatments are not successful, the doctor will recommend knee replacement surgery. The candidates for this surgical procedure are typically over the age of 50 and have serious osteoarthritis.
When the patient has been successfully put under general anesthesia, which means they are temporarily unconscious, or he or she has been provided with a spinal/epidural anesthetic which makes them numb from the waist down, an 8 to 12-inch incision will be made in the front surface of the knee. The injured or deteriorated area of the joint is excised from the surface of the bones and then they are shaped to fit with a prosthetic metal or plastic joint. Using either cement or a special bonding material, the artificial joint is adhered to the thigh bone, shin, and kneecap. Once in place, these attached artificial parts will make up the joint. The surrounding muscles and ligaments will allow the new joint to function and provide support.
On average, patients typically need to stay in the hospital after a knee replacement for three to five days. Significant improvement in functionality is reported by most all patients. A month or more following surgery is when the best results can be seen. The pain related to the damaged joints is relieved when a new gliding surface is created during the operation. After the surgery has been completed, patients should be standing on and moving the joint within 24 hours. In the beginning, patients may need to walk with parallel bars and then a walking device such as crutches, a walker, or a cane. This supports the patient’s entire body weight as the joint heals. After about 6 weeks, most people are moving around comfortably without much help. Patients who have had a knee joint replacement can begin to enjoy most non-strenuous activities once the muscle strength has been built back up.