A total knee replacement can help increase mobility, decrease pain, and restore a person to the lifestyle they once enjoyed. Typical knee replacement patients report increased function and less pain after a full recovery, which is why this surgical procedure is highly recommended for consideration by those who live with chronic knee pain from advanced arthritis.
The knee is the largest joint in the body and supports the full weight of the body, so pain can occur due to overuse or from simple wear-and-tear over time. If you have bone-on-bone arthritis, over-the-counter pain medicines no longer help, pain in your knee is keeping you awake at night, the knee has swelling or inflammation, or the knee has developed a deformed shape, then it might be time to see an orthopedist about getting a knee replacement.
Why Do People Get a Knee Replacement?
The most common reasons why patients undergo total knee replacement surgery is to:
- Increase the knee’s range of motion
- Reduce knee pain and swelling
- Restore an active lifestyle
- Regain full independence
How Safe Is Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
It is estimated that more than 700,000 total knee arthroplasties are performed each year in the United States. The popularity of this procedure is due to its high success rate, and although it is still major surgery, it is very safely performed by orthopedic surgeons across the country every day. By using minimally invasive techniques and rapid recovery protocols, patients typically just stay in the hospital overnight, or are even able to have a knee replacement performed as an outpatient procedure and go home the same day.
Modern minimally invasive techniques can help to decrease blood loss during the procedure, shorten the length of the surgical incision, and potentially help to achieve a quicker recovery as compared to traditional surgery.
Who Will Benefit from Knee Surgery?
Although we always hear about older people having total knee replacements due to arthritis and other age-related maladies, the age of patients receiving this treatment is also decreasing thanks to the fact that prosthetic knee joints are lasting longer and longer. Younger former athletes are now receiving total knee replacement surgery with greater success than ever before. Therefore, the age spread is increasing in both directions, both younger and older.
If a prosthetic knee joint becomes worn or damaged and isn’t working as well as it used to, your surgeon may recommend revision surgery if conservative treatments have failed. Under ideal conditions, this may simply involve replacing the prosthetic cushion in the artificial knee, but keeping all the other parts. If other parts of the knee replacement have worn down or loosened, then a full revision may be required to properly reconstruct the joint.
Are There Alternatives to a Knee Operation?
A total knee arthroplasty (aka replacement) is only recommended by an orthopedist after more conventional measures haven’t worked or have stopped working. Before surgery is considered, the doctor will first order X-rays or an MRI to examine the cartilage and bones of the knee.
The doctor may recommend a regimen of physical therapy designed to strengthen the muscles of the leg, which helps to improve support for the knee. Your orthopedic physician may also recommend various injections to help reduce your pain, as well as anti-inflammatory medications to decrease swelling and inflammation. However, if the tests show that the cartilage is gone or severely worn, the doctor may recommend total knee replacement surgery with a prosthetic knee joint when other conservative treatments have failed.
Knee Surgeon in Raleigh
If you are considering knee arthroplasty or total knee replacement surgery to help alleviate your chronic knee pain, consult an orthopedist to get a definitive answer – and the chance to try less-invasive measures first. Or, if you want a second opinion from a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knees and hips, we are here for you too.
Contact our caring team at the offices of Dr. Brett J. Gilbert today. Dr. Gilbert earned his medical degree and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, and he furthered his education with a joint reconstruction fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and has been in practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Raleigh, North Carolina, with EmergeOrtho since that time.
Call us at (919) 788-8797 to schedule a consultation, or request an appointment online. We have three convenient locations in Raleigh, Apex, and Brier Creek, and we look forward to seeing you.