By Dr. Mike Roberts
Knee replacement surgery is a common, effective, and relatively safe procedure to install an artificial joint once you and your doctor determine that a painful knee that makes it difficult to perform even the simplest of activities and other treatments are longer working.
You may also be a candidate for knee replacement surgery if X-rays and other imaging tests show severe joint damage from osteoarthritis or other conditions. If your knee is severely swollen or your leg is bowed and deformed, knee replacement may be your best option.
During surgery a cut is made in the front of the knee and the damaged part of the joint is removed from the surface of the bones, and the surfaces are then shaped to hold a metal or plastic artificial joint. The artificial joint is attached to the thigh bone, shin and knee cap either with cement or a special material. When fit together, the attached artificial parts form the joint, relying on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and function.
The average hospital stay after knee joint replacement is usually three to five days. The vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement. This improvement is most notable one month or more after surgery.
After knee joint replacement, people are standing and moving the joint the day after surgery. At first, you may walk with the help of parallel bars, and then a walking device – such as crutches, walker, or cane – will be used until your knee is able to support your full body weight. After about six weeks, most people are walking comfortably with minimal assistance. Once muscle strength is restored with physical therapy, people who have had knee joint replacement surgery can enjoy and resume most activities.
After knee replacement surgery, you are usually sent home or to a rehabilitation facility, depending on your condition at that time. Your doctor also may have you go to an outpatient physical therapy facility as the final stage of the rehabilitation process. Outpatient therapy may last from one to two months.
Rutherford Orthopedics can help you determine if you are a knee replacement candidate and what the appropriate course of action is to take. We are located next to Rutherford Regional Medical Center in Rutherfordton at 139 Doctor Henry Norris Drive. We can be reached by calling 828-287-9260.
Dr. Mike Roberts is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.