Joint arthroplasty (or replacement) is a surgical procedure to replace or reconstruct a damaged joint. This procedure is usually recommended for patients with severe joint pain and limited mobility due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or joint injury. Joint arthroplasty can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life by reducing pain and restoring joint function.
There are several types of Joint Replacement, including total hip replacement, total knee replacement, shoulder replacement, and ankle replacement. Among these procedures, total knee replacement is the most common.
The Most Common Joint Arthroplasty: Total Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement, or total knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to treat a damaged knee joint by replacing it with an artificial joint made of metal, plastic, and other materials.
Total knee replacement is typically recommended for patients with severe knee pain and disability caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or injury. These conditions can damage the knee joint, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
The Procedure of Total Knee Replacement
The total knee replacement procedure usually takes 1-2 hours, and patients are placed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon creates an incision in the front of the knee, removing the damaged bone and cartilage from the joint. Then, the surgeon positions the artificial joint components, which consist of metal and plastic parts, to create a new joint surface.
The metal components are placed on the end of the thigh bone and the top of the shin bone, while the plastic component is inserted between them to create a smooth, gliding surface. In some cases, the back of the kneecap is also replaced with a plastic component.
After the artificial joint is in place, the surgeon closes the incision with sutures or staples and places a drain to remove excess fluid. Patients are typically hospitalized for a few days after the surgery to manage pain and monitor their recovery.
Recovery and Rehabilitation After Total Knee Replacement
Recovery after total knee replacement typically involves pain management, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Patients may experience some pain and discomfort for several weeks after the surgery, and pain medication may be prescribed to manage this discomfort.
Physical therapy is integral to the recovery process and usually begins in the hospital shortly after the surgery. The physical therapist will teach the patient exercises to improve knee strength and range of motion. Depending on the patient’s progress, rehabilitation may continue for several weeks or months after the surgery.
During recovery and rehabilitation, patients should follow their surgeon’s instructions carefully and avoid certain activities that could damage the new knee joint. Patients should avoid high-impact activities like running or jumping, as well as activities that require sudden stops or changes in direction, like basketball or soccer.
Total knee replacement is the most common Joint Replacement. This surgery can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life by reducing pain and restoring joint function. Patients should also follow a comprehensive postoperative care plan that includes taking prescribed medications, avoiding high-impact activities, and attending follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider.
While joint arthroplasty is generally safe and effective, it does carry some risks, such as infection, blood clots, and implant failure. Therefore, patients should inform their healthcare provider of any unusual symptoms, such as fever or swelling, and seek medical attention immediately if they experience any complications. With proper care and adherence to postoperative instructions, most patients can expect to return to their daily activities and enjoy an improved quality of life after the surgery.