You can’t run, walk or even move your knee the way you used to. Daily chores have become nothing less than a burden and the very thought of moving your leg to get out of the bed the most difficult choice. You have tried medication, injections, and even physical therapy. But nothing seems to work. Under such circumstances, total knee replacement is not only the best option available but the only way to reclaim your life.
Usually performed after years of enduring excruciating knee pain followed by limited mobility, total knee replacement has the potential to provide a new lease of freedom to patients. No more pain and daily morning walks again! But first, let’s understand what is total knee replacement.
What is total knee replacement?
Also known as arthroplasty, total knee replacement surgery is among the most common bone surgeries in the world. It allows you to not only get rid of the knee pain caused by arthritis, injury, some other joint disease or trauma but also move about freely. During the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon replaces the damaged part of the knee with an artificial part made of metal or plastic. The artificial joint is then attached to the thigh bone, shin and kneecap with a special material called the acrylic cement.
Total knee replacement may be performed on patients, usually over 55, or whose knees have been facing significant amount of stiffness, instability and deformity. A total knee replacement usually requires between one and a half to three hours of operative time. Post-surgery, it generally takes 8-12 weeks to complete the rehab process.
Possible risks and complications from Total Knee Replacement Procedure
1. Complications from anesthesia
A surgeon may use general or local anesthesia to put the patient into a deep sleep or numb the leg. This is so that the patient won’t feel any pain during surgery. Modern anesthesia is usually safe, but it can cause side effects and negative reactions. The most common side effects include vomiting, dizziness, shivering, sore throat, aches and pains, discomfort and drowsiness.
- Blood clots
The medical term for blood clots when they occur in the legs is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Surgery or an injury of any kind increases the chances of a developing blood clot. That’s because the clotting process is activated as the body attempts to stop the bleeding and close the surgical wound. Orthopaedic procedures like total knee replacements are particularly likely to cause blood clots. Blood clots typically occur within two weeks of surgery, but they can also take place within a few hours or even in the operating room. Clots caused by DVT could delay your release from the hospital by a few days.
A miniscule percentage of patients are reported to develop an infection within 90 days of surgery.
Your doctor will also likely prescribe antibiotics before, during, and after the operation to help prevent infection.
4. Complications from a transfusion
On some instances, a blood transfusion is necessary following the Total knee replacement procedure. If you receive a blood transfusion, there’s a small risk that you will become unwell due to an incompatible blood match during a transfusion.
- Allergy to metal components
Some patients may suffer a reaction to the metal used in the artificial knee joint. The metal materials used in implants are commonly made from titanium or cobalt-chromium-based alloy. If you have a metal allergy, then make sure to tell your surgeon about the allergy well before your surgery.
- Wound and bleeding complications
Wounds may occasionally be slow to heal and bleeding complications can occur for several days following surgery. The medical staff will monitor the wound during the time you are there. Blood thinners can contribute to complications. The surgeon might need to reopen the wound and drain fluid.
The patient could also experience a Baker’s cyst, which is a buildup of fluid behind the knee. This may require draining with a needle to remove the fluid. If the skin does not heal properly, you might need a skin graft.
- Artery injuries
Because the major arteries of the leg are directly behind the knee, there’s a small chance that these vessels could be damaged. A vascular surgeon can usually repair the arteries if there is damage.
8. Prosthesis problems and implant failure
Another thing that could go wrong with total knee replacement surgery is improper placement or a malfunction of the implant. For example, the artificial kneecap may not track correctly after surgery — in other words, the new knee might not bend properly. Another possible implant malfunction is that the prosthesis might loosen from the bone over the long term. It will require an adjustment if that happens.
Total knee replacement recovery process
- After surgery is done, patients are rehabilitated in a recovery room, where vital organs are frequently monitored. When stabilized, patients are brought back to their ward.
- Although patients will experience some pain after surgery, it should diminish within four or five days. Your specialist will most likely prescribe intravenous painkillers. After you are released from the hospital, oral painkillers will be prescribed.
- Physiotherapy is an extremely important part of rehabilitation and requires full participation by the patient for perfect outcome. Patients can begin physiotherapy exercises 48 hours after surgery.
- Knee immobilizers are used in order to stabilize the knee while undergoing physiotherapy, walking, and sleeping.
- A medical device that can help speed recovery is the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. The CPM machine is first put on the operated leg. The machine then constantly rotates the knee through various degrees of range of motion for hours while the patient can relax. This can help to improve circulation and limit the risk of scarring and contracture of the knee tissues.
- After a few days, patients can start walking using a walker or crutches. Eventually, patients will learn to walk up and down the stairs. The physio will teach exercises to strengthen thigh and calf muscles.
- Patients will be required to continue exercising the muscles around the replaced joint to prevent scarring (and contracture) and maintain muscle strength for the purposes of joint stability. These exercises will reduce recovery time and lead to maximum strength and stability.
- The wound will be monitored by the doctor for healing. Patients also should observe warning signs of infection, including abnormal redness, increasing warmth, swelling, or unusual pain. It is crucial to report any injury to the joint to the doctor immediately.
- Athletic activities are usually limited to those that do not risk injuring the replaced joint. Sports that involve running or contact are avoided, in favour of leisure sports, such as golf, and swimming. Swimming is the perfect form of exercise, since the exercise improves muscle strength and endurance without exerting any pressure or stress on the replaced joint.
Remember, regular physio exercises for 20-30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day can help strengthen your muscles, improve mobility and help you get back to normal routine quickly. A specially designed exercise and activity program can ensure you safe recovery so be sure to check with your therapist on the ways you can perform exercises at home with or without the assistance of anyone.
Physiotherapy at home for Total knee replacement recovery
At HealthCare atHOME, we have a team of trained and experienced physiotherapists who are best equipped to provide word-class treatment to deal with total knee replacement recovery with customised plans suited for your individual needs. From helping you regain mobility to suggesting exercises that would strengthen your muscles; our professional physiotherapist will help you with total knee replacement recovery in lesser time. You can get more details on physiotherapy at home by calling on our toll-free number 1800-102-4224.