Knee replacement surgery can be a life-changing experience, but it's also an operation that requires careful planning and preparation to ensure you get the best outcome possible. The decision to have your knees replaced should only ever be made after considering all of these factors, including age, lifestyle, medical history, expectations, and more. While it might seem an easy choice at first glance, there are many facts you should be aware of before making this critical decision.
It is not for everyone
Most people who undergo total joint arthroplasty do so because they suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in their affected joints. However, JTA isn't suitable for every patient with severe arthritis. If you're healthy enough to walk without assistance, then you may still be able to live comfortably without having your knees replaced. Again, knee replacement may not be suitable if :
- You have other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions, cancer, kidney failure, liver disease, neurological disorders, blood clotting issues, or any other condition which could affect your recovery following surgery.
- You've had previous knee replacements.
You'll need to discuss your options thoroughly with your doctor if you think you could benefit from knee replacements.
With knee replacement, patients will usually require crutches until they regain full strength in their legs. This means that even though you won't be walking on your new artificial knees, you'll still need to use them as usual when out and about. It's worth noting that some patients find using crutches difficult due to balance issues caused by wearing prosthetic limbs. Your surgeon will advise you how long you'll need to wear crutches following surgery. If you feel like you'd prefer to avoid crutches altogether, ask your surgeon whether they think you would benefit from a different type of brace instead.
Knee replacements are not some of the most comfortable operations around. Patients often report feeling soreness and stiffness immediately following surgery. Painkillers prescribed during hospitalization help alleviate discomfort, but it doesn't go away completely. Some patients describe experiencing swelling and bruising where the incision was made. These effects tend to fade over time, although some residual scarring remains. If you decide to have knee replacements, make sure you take into account what kind of postoperative care you want to receive. Sure enough, you don't want to end up being discharged home too early before the discomfort level has gone significantly manageable.
Strong social support
If you choose to have knee replacements, you'll probably need strong social support. Having someone nearby to talk through the process with you and offer emotional support can help ease the burden of undergoing major orthopedic procedures. Ask friends and family members to watch for signs of distress and anxiety while you recover. They can encourage and act as sounding boards for questions you may have regarding your procedure. Consider seeking professional advice if you don't already have strong family ties, friends, and neighbors willing to provide emotional support during your recovery period. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist explicitly trained in orthopedics can offer guidance and practical tips to assist you through the process. They can also recommend local resources where you can receive additional information and support.
Chronic knee pain
Some patients report experiencing chronic knee pain following knee replacement surgery. Although most cases resolve within three years, others persist longer than expected. In rare instances, complications can occur requiring further treatment. For example, infection or loosening of components can cause persistent pain. Patients suffering from these conditions often require revision surgeries to correct problems. The good news is that if you experience any symptoms after having had knee replacements, there are ways to treat them effectively. You should seek medical attention promptly if you notice anything unusual such as redness, warmth, tenderness, or discharge at the site of your operation.
Expectation May Not Meet Reality
Although knee replacement surgery has been proven effective in improving quality of life, it doesn't always meet expectations. Many patients expect immediate relief from debilitating pain; however, this rarely happens. Instead, patients typically notice improvements in function and activity levels within weeks of undergoing surgery. Most patients return home within two days of leaving the hospital.
To wrap it up, knee replacement surgery isn't a cure-all solution for all types of arthritis. It's essential to understand how well it will work for you before deciding whether or not to proceed with the procedure. Make sure you're aware of potential risks associated with the surgery, so you know exactly what to look forward to when deciding to undergo knee replacement.