KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY: POST OP SUCCESS TIPS
Total joint replacement is one of the great surgical advances of this century.
In this procedure, an orthopaedic surgeon replaces the arthritic or damaged joint with an artificial joint called a prosthesis. In the United Kingdom alone, more than 100,000 total joint replacements are performed each year.
The most common reason for a ‘new knee’ is to relieve the pain and disability caused by severe arthritis. This is because the surfaces of the knee joint are no longer smooth. The bones are irregularly shaped and the smooth surfaces of the joint are worn away or damaged. The aim of the operation is to stop the pain so that you are able to walk and get around more comfortably. It should also correct any deformity.
The main benefit to you is the dramatic relief from pain. Naturally you can expect some post operative pain but you will be given medication to control this. It is very important that your pain is well controlled to enable you to exercise to regain the strength and range of movement in your leg. After the operation, you should be able to bend your knee from fully straight to a right angle. As a result you should be able to walk further and climb stairs more easily.
To have a good result after your operation it is important that you follow the advice of the physiotherapist. The muscles on the front of your thigh, the quadriceps, help keep your knee stable. You will be shown a series of exercises to do before the operation, bear in mind that the surgeon wants to put a new joint into a strong leg. You will be taught exercises to perform after your operation and it is vital that you practice them conscientiously. The strength and range of movement will gradually improve in your new knee and you will progress from walking with help of elbow crutches to sticks, then one stick held in the hand opposite to your new knee and to walking unaided. Initially your progress will be relatively fast and then it will plateau. It’s important that you do not get despondent and that you realise that you will continue to improve, albeit slowly, and should get the best out of your new joint nine to twelve months after the operation.
Remember your progress should be gradual and it is important that you do not try to do too much too soon. You should not drive until you have the permission of your surgeon. After three months you may restart swimming although you may find you have some pain if you do the breaststroke. If this is the case you need to use a different stroke. You should not kneel on your knee for at least three months. You will be able to return to playing sports, that is golf etc, but be sensible and wait at least six months until you have built up your muscle strength. I once met a gentleman in his nineties
who was having a knee replacement as he wanted to continue scuba diving! Determination also plays its part.
Finally, the kindest thing you can do for your joints is to lose any excess weight which will reduce the pressure on your knees.
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