For years, persons with severe arthritis to their knees had to withstand the severe pains and try pain medications that had serious side effects. Advancement in medicine now means that one can get a new knee and ease all their pains from the arthritis. Knee replacement surgery has also taken off in Guyana. We have very capable bone specialists that are doing this surgery locally.
Unfortunately, quite a percentage of our population suffers from arthritis of their knee. A good proportion of them require knee replacement surgery. While some are very eager for the surgery to rid their pains, others are often skeptical because they do not know what they are getting into.
Today I will shed some light on knee replacement surgery so that those affected by severe arthritis of their knee, will be able to have a more constructive discussion with their bone specialist.
WHAT IS KNEE REPLACEMENT?
Knee replacement is a type of surgery in which a doctor replaces parts of a person’s knee joint with manmade parts.
The knee joint is made up of the lower part of the thigh bone (called the femur), the knee cap (called the patella), and the top part of the shinbone (called the tibia).
When people have problems with their knee joint, the knee can be painful, swollen, stiff, or have trouble moving normally. Different conditions can cause problems with the knee joint. One of the most common causes is osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that often comes with age. Knee replacement is a treatment that can reduce knee pain and improve the way the knee works.
WHEN ARE KNEE PROBLEMS TREATED WITH KNEE REPLACEMENT?
Knee problems might or might not be treated with knee replacement right away. Doctors often suggest trying other treatments first. These can include weight loss, medicines, knee braces, or physical therapy. If these treatments do not help enough, doctors then suggest knee replacement.
One reason doctors suggest trying other treatments first, especially for younger people, is that a replacement knee joint can wear out over time. Knee replacements usually last at least 10 to 15 years, and some last longer. The number of years a replacement joint lasts depends on different things, such as how active the person is.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY?
Knee replacement takes place in an operating room in a hospital. A doctor will give you medicines to make you sleep and to numb your body. Then your doctor will make a cut down the center on the front of the knee. He or she will replace parts of your knee joint with man-made parts made out of metal, ceramic, or plastic.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SURGERY?
After surgery, most people stay in the hospital for 2 days to a week. While you are in the hospital, you will get:
● Medicines to treat your pain
● Antibiotic medicines to prevent infections
● Medicines to prevent blood clots in the legs
● Special boots or stockings to prevent blood clots in the legs
WHAT PROBLEMS CAN PEOPLE HAVE FROM KNEE REPLACEMENT?
People can have different problems right after knee replacement surgery, but serious problems are uncommon. Problems from knee replacement can include:
● Blood clots in the legs – This can cause leg pain and swelling.
● Infections – Symptoms of an infection can include fever, chills, pain in the knee that gets worse and worse, or knee swelling.
If you have any of these symptoms, let your doctor or nurse know.
People who have a knee replaced sometimes find that the new knee is stiff and does not bend as well as their own knee used to. This can make it hard to climb stairs or get up from a low chair.
WHERE DO I GO AFTER I LEAVE THE HOSPITAL?
Many people go home. But some people stay in a nursing home or rehabilitation centre for a short time in order to get stronger before going home. Wherever you go, you will need to do your exercises and have physical therapy.
WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO DO MY USUAL ACTIVITIES AGAIN?
Most people can do their usual activities again within 4 to 6 weeks of knee replacement. Your doctor will tell you if there are any activities that you should avoid.
The end result is being able to live without the debilitating knee pains.
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