Image Courtesy: Ortho Bethesda

Knee replacement has been a new hope for aching knees in the recent past. There are proven results between a successful knee replacement surgery and lessened pain. Hence returning to your daily schedule that involves activities you love is no longer a dream. However, knee replacement surgery is not for everyone. 

Despite one’s opinion, one might require surgery. This is because cushions of cartilage in knees could be destroyed due to various reasons. Therefore the knee may experience constant unbearable pain from bone grinding on bone. Here we look into a few aspects and facts to know before you nod yes to a knee replacement surgery. 

The Excruciating Pain

As the human knee is specifically designed in a way to wear and tear, anything could be expected. Hence, every one of our actions as stepping, jumping, and even crossing legs contribute to exerting stress on the joints. It is therefore not surprising to witness many experiencing knee-related issues due to wear-off as people age. 

Although there are short-term remedies available that may contribute to lessening the knee pain as losing weight, physical therapy, injections, knee braces, or supplements, it hardly helps perpetual pain. Thus for more intense pains as arthritic knee pains, the precise solution would be to replace them. 

A knee replacement involves removing damaged cartilage and bone in a knee and connecting your bones to an artificial knee. Typically, a knee replacement surgery takes an hour and performs surgery under local or general anesthesia. What’s important is trusting the surgeon.

Is Surgery Really the Answer?

knee replacement
Image Courtesy: Pexels

According to doctors, surgery is not always the answer despite some patients’ disputing. Patients have a tendency to rely on surgery during difficult times. However, knee replacement surgery is not for all of them. This is because the doctors are not convinced of its appropriateness. 

According to recent research, a third of the procedures were marked as unsuccessful. These patients who were reviewed during research in 2015 showed that there was no significant lessening of the pain. This means some patients who undergo knee replacement surgery do not benefit from any sort of relief. 

Five Concerns to Rule out Before you Nod Yes to Surgery

  • No determining criteria 

To the shock, definitive there are no criteria in determining whether or not a knee replacement surgery should take place. The assessment involves considering variables such as pain, daily activities, and visibility of damage in the bones. However, the latter of the three variables is what can be measured objectively. If the evidence is visible, performing surgery can be confirmed upon. 

 In such a situation, it would be wise to request your doctor to compare the symptoms with previous patients who have been assessed. Additionally, ask your doctor to use a standardized scale in comparing the symptoms for results to be more precise. Moreover, tell your doctor to stage your symptoms as mild, moderate, or severe for better understanding. This will give a clear view of what to expect in a year from now.  With this in mind, you can opt to consider knee replacement surgery. 

  • Misleading adverts at hospitals 

Despite surgeons’ opinions, most hospitals engage in promotional activities using adverts with physically fit men. Patients tend to visualize themselves in such a state post-operation. However, most surgeons would tell that post-op visits would be essential. Yet it is mostly misleading adverts that can create high expectations in a patient which should not happen. 

Some adverts include a sportsman fit physically surfing or mountain climbing in adverts. This can convey a misleading idea to patients of being able to engage in such activities post-operation. Sometimes the reality can be the exact opposite even after surgery. Hence investing high hopes in surgery backed by misleading influences might not always be a good idea. 

Always bear in mind that it’s a major surgery and having an open mind is what you should focus on. 

  • Expectations vary

A European study showed that a good number of patients (93%) were extremely satisfied with the outcome of the surgery after five years. However, most also expressed their thoughts about having higher expectations than the real outcome of the knee replacement surgery. Minorities who were involved in sports and recreational activities have had successful surgeries. This means despite the surgery, the pain might continue depending on an individual’s prior activity level. In this case, physical therapy, electrical stimulation, or over-the-counter medications can be more effective than other means. 

It would be prior mental preparation to question your surgeon and know the right answers as to what you should expect post-surgery. Moreover, this means you will have to forgo any sports-related hobbies or daily activities that involve pressure on the knee. For instance, involved in sports activities like tennis post-surgery could shorten implant life. 

  • Extended recovery period

Knee replacement is no minor surgery. Hence, one might have to work really hard towards achieving the desired post-surgery outcome. This means healing might take longer than expected. Recovering from a knee replacement surgery might take a good time as 6-8 weeks. However, the healing process will also involve rehabilitation and engaging in physical therapy that will contribute to regaining motion and rebuilding muscles to support the overall knee health. 

However, a study showed that even after six months of surgery, a third of the patients didn’t have a significant reduction in pain. This means amidst modern rehab techniques, one might still have to endure a little longer in coping with knee pain to feel a measurable improvement. In another study, it showed that one in eight patients had moderate to severe knee pain for more than a year post-surgery. However, almost all patients were at a satisfactory range five years post-op. 

Thus, requesting an educational program from the health care provider related to knee replacement details would make you more aware of the post-surgery situation. This means you will have a better understanding which contributes heavily to cope up with difficulties after the surgery.

  • Not every doctor is the same

It is highly important to understand that expecting every doctor or surgeon who performs the knee replacement surgery to be the same is not right. There are surgeons who do high-volume surgeries and ones who do low volumes. This means surgeons who perform 6 or fewer knee replacement surgeries a year are with less experience and fewer skills. 

Moreover, these less skilled surgeons give poor results on post-surgery recovery. This means the recovery period of a knee replacement surgery may extend depending on the surgeon you choose. Hence, questioning a surgeon prior to surgery is your right. Try asking questions like does your surgeon take a personal interest in what happens to you? 

Technology Used in Surgery

Despite constant lookout for technological advancements by scientists to offer improved treatments, the existing procedures are not bad either. Two of the successful procedures that have been in practice include patient-specific instruments and partial surgeries. The former utilizes digital imaging to customize instruments just for the purpose. The latter involves switching a part of the knee while leaving healthy cartilage and bone intact.  

In conclusion, knee replacement surgery is quite risky and serious. However, try addressing the above concerns prior to making a decision on the surgery for a successful outcome. 

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