Whether through trauma or disease, if you are faced with the possibility of a total knee replacement then you likely want all the facts. While osteoarthritis remains the leading reason for knee replacement, both young and old may be faced with this procedure for a variety of reasons.
What Is A Total Knee Replacement?
A knee replacement is a surgical procedure which replaces selected parts of the knee with prosthetic substitutes.
The knee itself consists of the connection between the tibia (shin bone), the femur (thigh bone) which sit behind the patella (knee cap). In a healthy knee, adequate soft cartilage acts as a strong cushion between these strong, weight-bearing bones and allows for free movement of the joint. Ligaments sit on each side of the knee joint and act as struts to keep the joint firmly in place.
Trauma or disease damages this balance of bone, ligament and cartilage. If your orthopaedic surgeon determines that a knee replacement is necessary then he will assess exactly what procedure will work for you. In many cases, the bottom of the femur is replaced with a strong metal shell which meets a plastic stem positioned on the tibia. These provide a similar range of motion to the previous knee joint, minus the pain and inflammation of an infected or damaged joint.
Who Should Consider A Knee Replacement Procedure?
Patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee joint, the gradual wearing away of the rubbery cartilage between the bones, are candidates for knee replacement. Sadly, this degenerative condition can be managed but not reversed, and joint damage and pain are inevitable without surgical intervention.
Damage through accidents or sporting injuries should be assessed as soon as possible by an orthopaedic surgeon to determine if they are permanent. Knee pain should not be left, as your knee is a weight-bearing joint and is very likely to get worse and require additional treatment if not attended to timeously.
What Are the Risks Of A Total Knee Replacement?
As with any surgical procedure, the risks of a knee replacement are worth considering. When undergoing anaesthesia, there are always risks which are explained to patients and can include negative side effects such as nausea, as well as organ damage. Blood clots and infections are also possible risks, and these should be discussed with your orthopaedic surgeon to explore the best way forward.
Can you reduce your risk of needing a knee replacement?
In cases where genetics and age play a role, then you will find that you have little control over the strength of your knee joint. However, other determining factors include a good diet (strong bones and tissue), maintaining a healthy weight so as not to place additional strain on your knees, maintaining strong thigh muscles to further reduce joint strain, and ensuring that you practice good form during your sporting activities.
If you are suffering from knee pain or you have questions, please feel free to call our qualified orthopaedic surgeon for a consult.