Things You Should Know When Consulting a Knee Replacement Specialist
The partial or total replacement of a knee, hip, or other joint is the job of a specialist orthopaedic surgeon, and it is a procedure that is generally referred to in medical circles as arthroplasty. In practice, there are a number of reasons why a surgeon might choose to recommend that a patient should consider arthroplasty. However, whatever the underlying cause of his or her symptoms, the primary purpose of this type of surgery is to relieve joint pain when medication is ineffective and, in those cases where the movement of the joint may also be impaired, to restore the patient’s mobility.
The most common indication for performing an arthroplastic procedure is as a means to overcome the damage caused by osteoarthritis. Characterise by the progressive degeneration of the articulating surfaces of the bones involved, in this case, the tibia, the femur, and the patella or kneecap, specialists are often left with no viable option other than to perform knee replacement surgery on the patient. Where once this was a condition that was limited almost exclusively to those aged over 60, although it is still female subjects that are most often affected by osteoarthritis, the incidence of this debilitating condition has recently been increasing among those in their 50s and even younger.
As a result, more people are now visiting their GPs and reporting that they have developed painful swollen joints, and many of these will eventually be faced with the need for arthroplasty. It may therefore be of help to learn a little more about these procedures, should you believe you may be among those who, at some time in the near future, may need to consider making an appointment with one of the country’s knee replacement specialists.
Perhaps the first thing that anyone facing this type of procedure needs to hear is that, since its inception, arthroplasty has developed to become one of the safest and most successful forms of surgery currently practiced. So, at what point will it normally become necessary? The progress of osteoarthritis is generally quite slow and patients tend to first become aware of stiffness and occasional pain. The initial clinical response is commonly to recommend a course of physiotherapy and to prescribe a suitable analgesic. Should the painkillers become less effective over time, a physician may then choose to administer a series of steroid injections to provide lengthier periods of pain relief. Only when the injections also become ineffective will a referral to a knee replacement specialist normally follow.
Arthroplasty applied to any joint is, in practice, an elective procedure and so a patient may request that the procedure is performed sooner rather than later. In general, though, they are more likely to be advised to delay undergoing the surgery while non-surgical treatments continue to alleviate their symptoms.
Prior to admission, you may be advised regarding some simple and less-challenging exercises that, nevertheless, are helpful in building the strength and endurance of your joint and extending its mobility. This, in turn, can assist in speeding up your post-operative recovery. Smokers will need to refrain during the weeks leading up to surgery, while diabetics should be sure to manage their blood glucose levels stringently, given that hyperglycaemia could increase the risk of post-operative infection. Finally, ask your doctor about any medication that might need to be discontinued to avoid complications for the specialist performing your knee replacement. Anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin, for example, could interfere with the clotting process and lead to excessive blood loss.
Your surgeon will, of course, provide you with the details of the procedure, as well as advise you of the possible risks that are common with any surgical procedure, as well as those more relevant to arthroplasty. Although a partial replacement can be effective, there is a growing trend to encourage patients to avoid possible future problems by having prostheses fitted to both the femur and the tibia.
The procedure will normally take about two hours and you can expect to remain hospitalised for two to three days. Your specialist will normally begin your rehabilitation programme on the day following your knee replacement. Continuing until he or she is satisfied will ensure the best possible outcome.