If you have arthritis in your knee and none of the treatments your doctor has tried help relieve pain or increase mobility, then it may be time to talk to an orthopaedic surgeon about knee replacement surgery. Surgery can potentially make a big difference in how well you can walk and how much pain you experience. Here's a look at when the surgery might be needed and what the procedure entails.
How A Total Knee Replacement Helps With Arthritis Pain
Osteoarthritis causes a gradual wearing down of your knee joint. It gets more and more difficult to walk without pain. Your knee may be stiff and that further interferes with your ability to stay mobile and active. The pain caused by joint damage can be persistent and severe. It can greatly affect your quality of life when treatments don't help. A total knee replacement is often a suitable treatment for joint damage because the procedure replaces your damaged joint with artificial materials, so your joint function improves, and the pain is eliminated or reduced.
What To Expect With Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery usually requires a short hospital stay and general anesthesia. When the surgery is over, your knee will be in a brace that immobilizes it so it can heal. Physical therapy is an important part of recovery from knee replacement surgery. Your therapist will remove the brace for periods when helping you walk and exercise. At first, your leg may be placed in a device that slowly bends and straightens your knee. This is a type of passive exercise that helps keep your knee flexible and prevents scar tissue from causing adhesions.
Once you're released from the hospital, you'll recover at home or a rehab center depending on your health and living circumstances. Physical therapy sessions will continue until you can safely use your knee for all activities such as going up and down stairs. You'll need to learn exercises and stretches to do on your own at home, so you heal as quickly as possible.
You'll also need to use a walker or crutches to get around, so it's best to prepare your home in advance of the surgery so you'll be safe when you move around and you'll have everything you need to care for yourself and your knee. You might notice pain for several weeks after surgery because it takes time for the swelling to go down.
In time, as your knee heals, you should notice that you have increased mobility and much less pain than before the procedure. While you may need to limit some types of strenuous activity permanently after the surgery, light exercise is beneficial in building muscles that support the knee and for keeping your knee flexible.
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