Total knee replacements are considered when all of the cartilage in the knee joint is gone and daily activities cause an excessive amount of pain. The knee is the largest weight-bearing joint in the body, which is responsible for cushioning stress during activities such as walking, bending and jogging. In many cases, when the cartilage cushion has deteriorated and disappeared, the individual experiences excruciating pain. A total knee replacement often reduces the pain significantly and allows the individual to participate in daily activities once again.
Following a knee replacement, the individual is at greater risk for blood clots. To reduce the risk, the surgeon will often prescribe medication that increases the clotting time of the blood. According to doctors at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, physicians must continue to monitor the effectiveness of the medication through consistent blood tests. Patients will wear elastic stockings for at least six weeks after surgery and must sleep in them to reduce the potential for clot development. Any increasing pain or swelling in the leg, tenderness or redness above or below the knee or sudden shortness of breath or chest pain is a medical emergency.
Infection in the joint is a potential complication that can result in loss of the knee replacement joint. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, bacteria can enter the blood stream from dental procedures, urinary tract infections, or skin infections. The bacteria then lodge around the joint replacement and cause an infection. Prevention must be taken prior to dental work or surgical procedures that may allow bacteria into the blood stream.
The surgeon will caution that a fall in the first few weeks after surgery can permanently damage the joint and may lead to more surgery. According to the University of Minnesota Orthopedic Surgery Department, physical therapy will help improve balance, strength and flexibility, leading to reduced chance of falling. Until that time, it is advisable that patients use a walker or cane for assistance.
Positioning the leg during sleep will be important to extending the life of the replacement and maintaining the individual’s mobility. According to the University of Minnesota Orthopedic Surgery Department physicians, patients should never sleep with a pillow beneath the knee joint. Flexion at the knee and hip increases the chance that the muscles will shorten and make walking difficult. Instead, a pillow should be used under the ankle, or a knee immobilizer should be worn at night in order to keep the knee straight during sleep.
Following the procedure, the surgeon will advise the patient about the types of activities that are possible and those that should be avoided. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, some of the activities that are dangerous for the new knee and must be avoided are jogging, jumping, contact sports, or high impact aerobics. Activities that normally should be avoided are hiking, skiing, tennis or repetitive motion such as lifting or stair climbing. Individuals who have experienced a knee replacement should do recreational walking, swimming, golf, recreational biking or normal stair climbing to maintain cardiovascular health.
Note – This information has been taken from different internet sources.