Healthy knees are necessary for balance and to perform several daily activities. The knee joint, which is the biggest joint in the human body, can be damaged by arthritis or injuries. When medications and props are no longer effective in damage control, a total knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) may be carried out as a safe option to relieve pain and deformity.
Total knee replacement (TKR) is performed by removing the damaged part of the bones that make up the joint and replacing them with metal implants to lend the required support. The procedure comes with its own set of risks, and is, therefore, carried out only on those patients for whom it is absolutely necessary.
Prior to a total knee replacement you will be required to do a few tests to ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for the procedure. This pre-surgical evaluation will be carried out a few weeks before the surgery. Sometimes, you will be required to perform pre-operative strengthening exercises, or undergo weightloss before the procedure to enhance surgery results.
If you are considering TKR, there are a few things that you need to do prior to the surgery. First ensure that your surgery is carried out only by a knee specialist. Once you have done that you should ask your specialist the following questions –
1) What are the risks / complications of having a TKR?
Any surgery is risky and so is TKR. It is the duty of the doctor to tell you about the benefits of surgery and also about the risks involved, including the anesthetic that will be used ( epidural, sedative), chances of infection and procedural failure, heart problems, nerve injury around the knee, implant related problems, stroke and even death. In order to make the right decision it is important to be aware of the risks and complications.
2) Can you tell me what will happen during the surgery?
Although you may not want to know too much about the operation you must find out the basic information regarding the procedure as a part of your preparedness. This might help you to control your anxiety.
3) What kind of an implant will be used?
You can ask your doctor about the nature of the implant and how successful it has been with other patients. Doctors usually tell you not to do strenuous activities after TKR as implants are subject to wear and tear.
4) Will I have to endure pain?
Pain management is part of the post surgical proceedings. Several pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, including NSAIDS, will be used to control pain.
5) How long will recuperation take?
Your return to normal life will not be a speedy one. It is important for you to understand that you will have several days of hospital stay followed by a period of recuperation at home.
6) How soon can I get back to doing things that I always did, like playing golf?
For a while you may even have to use crutches to walk around. Physiotherapy is absolutely necessary to help you regain strength, flexibility and balance. Time taken to get back to normal life is different in different individuals. It will depend on the healing time and on the success of pain management.
7) What will happen if I prolong the surgery?
Nothing will happen overnight, but with time the pain in your knee is likely to reach a crescendo. Besides, there will be continued loss of strength in the knee joint area, leading to a problem in maintaining balance.