Knee Replacement Specialists Are Changing Lives on a Daily Basis
Few of us appreciate the pounding that our joints receive over the course of a lifetime, especially since an increasing number of humans can now reasonably expect to far exceed the once accepted span of three score years and ten. For those who live a life of fairly average activity, the risk of a damaged joint is more likely to arise as the result of an accident. However, for the sporting and keep-fit types, excessive exercise can also result in musculoskeletal trauma on occasions. Sometimes, however, disease can take its toll on our joints. Whatever the cause, the subsequent damage will often require the attention of a hip or knee replacement specialist.
While all of our joints are prone to injury or disease, it is those in the lower limbs that most often tend to require the intervention of a surgeon. This, of course, is not too surprising, given that our legs must bear the entire weight of our bodies whilst we are standing, walking, or running.
To enable the bones of our joints to move smoothly against one another, each articulating surface has a smooth protective coating of cartilage. In addition, the whole is enclosed within a sac filled with slightly viscous synovial fluid to provide additional lubrication. Loss of fluid and erosion of cartilage can lead to pain and swelling for which joints such as the hip or knee will often require replacement by specialists.
Involving the articulation of three bones, the femur, tibia, and patella, because of its weight-bearing role, the knee is a particularly vulnerable joint and one that frequently suffers damage as the result of sporting injuries or work activities that are physically demanding. Often, such injuries can be dealt with either by a physiotherapist or a chiropractor, but in the case of a torn meniscus or anterior cruciate ligament, a suitable intervention by an orthopaedic surgeon will be necessary. However, where an articulating surface within the joint is severely damaged, an intervention by one of the country’s knee replacement specialists will probably be essential.
While a sports injury or a road traffic accident could possibly also call for the insertion of a prosthetic joint, it is more often than not the condition known as osteoarthritis that will normally require a surgeon to resort to such extreme measures. In practice, however, various advances in the field of orthopaedic surgery have served to improve these procedures to the point where they are not only safer and simpler, but also widely accepted by knee replacement specialists all over the world as the most successful form of orthopaedic intervention ever developed.
The procedure, which is known as arthroplasty, may be either total or partial, depending upon whether one or both of the articulating surfaces of the joint are affected. In each case, the head and a portion of the shaft of the femur and/or tibia is first removed and then replaced with a tailored prosthesis with a plastic spacer between to act like friction-free cartilage. The implanted structure is often held in place with special bone cement, while in other cases, the attendant knee replacement specialists may favour a newer attachment technique that works by promoting fusion between the healthy bone tissue and the sponge-like metallic stem of the implant.
Even more surprising is the fact that, as a result of the development of arthroscopic techniques, many of these implants are now performed without the need to fully expose the joint. Instead, an arthroscope, consisting of a narrow tube containing a fibre optic cable, is inserted via a tiny incision to conduct light to the interior of the joint and return images from a video camera to a monitor screen. Additional keyhole incisions provide entry for the necessary instruments, providing knee replacement specialists with a minimally invasive option that reduces blood loss, the risk of infection, and recovery time.