Total Knee Replacement

A knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, could be better described as knee “resurfacing” since only the surface of the bones is replaced. This surgical procedure is highly successful in treating osteoarthritis, offering a safe and effective means to alleviate pain, rectify leg deformities, and facilitate a return to normal activities. Over 90% of individuals who have undergone total knee replacement surgery have reported a significant decrease in knee pain and notable improvements in carrying out daily tasks.

What happens during the procedure?

Knee replacement surgery involves administering anesthesia. Your preferences play a crucial role in determining whether general anesthesia, which induces unconsciousness, or spinal anesthesia, which keeps you awake but numbs sensation from the waist down, is used. Throughout the procedure, the surgeon will excise bone and diseased cartilage from the juncture of your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) at the knee joint. These surfaces are subsequently substituted with a metal implant.

After Surgery

The patient will spend a few nights in the hospital. Throughout their stay, they will receive antibiotics and pain medication, while being closely monitored for any complications. Following the surgery, a physical therapist will initiate weight-bearing therapy, aiding in standing and walking. This will be complemented by a blend of physical and occupational therapy aimed at facilitating adjustment to the new knee. Once certain tasks, like independent movement out of bed and bathroom usage, can be performed, the patient will be discharged. They will then continue physical therapy at home, possibly requiring the use of a cane or walker for a brief period post-operation.

Bilateral Knee Replacement

In bilateral or double knee replacement surgery, both knees are replaced at once. This option is beneficial if you have osteoarthritis in both knees, as it means undergoing the procedure and recovery process only once.

There are two approaches to double knee replacement surgery. Simultaneous bilateral knee replacement involves replacing both knees in a single surgery, whereas staged bilateral knee replacement involves replacing each knee at different times.

The main advantage of simultaneous surgery is that it requires only one hospital stay and one rehabilitation period, resulting in reduced overall costs. However, it’s not recommended for individuals with heart or lung conditions due to the longer surgery time, increased blood loss, and higher doses of anesthesia required.

In staged bilateral knee replacement, each knee is replaced in separate surgeries, typically a few months apart. This approach reduces the risk of complications and shortens the hospital stay. However, since it involves two surgeries, the overall rehabilitation period may be longer, delaying the return to daily activities and increasing treatment costs.

Resuming Activities

You can typically resume most daily activities within about 3 months following surgery, and usually, you'll be able to drive again after 4-6 weeks. It's crucial to adhere to your exercise and rehabilitation regimen without pushing yourself too hard. For those with sedentary jobs, returning to work is feasible after 4-6 weeks, but if your work entails heavy lifting, it may be necessary to wait 3 months before resuming. Full recovery to pre-surgery activity levels may take anywhere from 6 to 12 months.