Total knee replacement surgery is a procedure to reduce pain and stiffness by removing damaged cartilage. A person undergoing a total knee replacement will usually spend around five days in the hospital because among other things it can take this long to be comfortable walking on crutches. After the operation, a period of rehabilitation to develop and maintain strength in the joint is important for a full recovery. Some potential complications include a buildup of scar tissue, which may require more surgery, and infection.
There is an area of cartilage in the knee where the thigh meets the shin bone. In a healthy knee, this allows the joint to slide smoothly and without pain. Over time, however, the cartilage can be damaged due to arthritis or impact injuries. When this happens, the joint feels painful to move. Total knee replacement surgery is an option for those with severely damaged knee cartilage because it can reduce pain and stiffness.
A total knee replacement is a major procedure, so it is often only recommended when conservative treatments have failed. The operation usually takes between one or two hours and involves a large cut along the front of the joint. Once the knee has been opened up, the damaged areas are removed and replaced. The anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments will also often be removed.
After total knee replacement surgery, it is common for a patient to stay in hospital for about five days. During this time, the patient will be given pain relief and be monitored for signs of infection or other problems. Rehabilitation is essential for a successful total knee replacement surgery; a physiotherapist will be assigned to teach the patient various exercises. In most cases, the patient will stay in the hospital until he or she is able to walk on crutches.
If the surgery goes well, a knee replacement can last for up to twenty years. This lifespan can be affected by a variety of factors, however. A successful total knee replacement surgery can significantly reduce pain levels, but the patient will usually not have the same range of motion in the joint. Aside from the chance of infection, other side effects include that the knee will be sore and swollen for about six months along with a large scar over the front of the knee. Scar tissue developing in the joint after surgery can limit movement significantly; additional operations might be required as a result.