If your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury, it may be hard for you to perform simple activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. You may even begin to feel pain while you are sitting or lying down. If nonsurgical treatments like medications and using walking supports are no longer helpful, you may want to consider total knee replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help you resume normal activities.
Knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968. Since then, improvements in surgical materials and techniques have greatly increased its effectiveness. Total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. According to Frost and Sullivan research, almost 70,000 joint replacement surgeries were performed in India in the year 2011. Since then the demand for knee replacement has risen exponentially.
Whether you have just begun exploring treatment options or have already decided to have total knee replacement surgery, this page will help you understand more about this valuable procedure.
The knee is the largest joint in the body and having healthy knees is required to perform most everyday activities. The knee is made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur), the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). The ends of these three bones where they touch are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that protects the bones and enables them to move easily.
The menisci are located between the femur and tibia. These C-shaped wedges act as “shock absorbers” that cushion the joint. Large ligaments hold the femur and tibia together and provide stability. The long thigh muscles give the knee strength.
All remaining surfaces of the knee are covered by a thin lining called the synovial membrane. This membrane releases a fluid that lubricates the cartilage, reducing friction to nearly zero in a healthy knee. Normally, all of these components work in harmony. But disease or injury can disrupt this harmony, resulting in pain, muscle weakness, and significantly reduced function.
The most common cause of chronic knee pain and disability is arthritis. Although there are many types of arthritis, most knee pain is caused by just three types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.
Candidates for Surgery
There are no absolute age or weight restrictions for total knee replacement surgery. Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient’s pain and disability, not age. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are age 50 to 80, but orthopaedic surgeons evaluate patients individually. Total knee replacements have been performed successfully at all ages, from the young teenager with juvenile arthritis to the elderly patient with degenerative arthritis.
When Total Knee Replacement (TKR) Is Recommended
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. People who benefit from total knee replacement often have:
Patients frequently expect total knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) surgery to exchange virtually all skeletal structures from the end of their femur (thigh bone) to the top of their tibia (shin bone). A TKR might be more accurately termed a knee “resurfacing” because only the surface of the bones are actually replaced. For the most part, the patient’s tendons and ligaments are preserved to allow the new artificial surfaces to glide and rotate much like a normal knee joint. The worn, arthritic surfaces are removed and replaced with the artificial joint, while the healthy tissue is left intact.
There are four basic steps to a knee replacement procedure.