Is someone you care about constantly complaining about nagging knee pain? Have you considered the possibility of knee surgery as a solution? If the idea has left you worried, you’re not alone. When it comes to knee pain, especially for those with arthritis, surgery is often seen as a last resort. Many patients seek second or third opinions before considering knee replacement surgery, even though there is ample medical evidence suggesting that it is the only viable solution for arthritic joints.
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Arthritis-related knee pain affects around 350 million patients worldwide each year, making it the second most dreaded condition after cardiovascular issues. In India alone, there are over 15 million cases annually, and this number is projected to reach 60 million by 2025, according to the Arthritis Society.
Over the years, knee replacement surgeries have significantly evolved. “Today, joint replacement surgeons can assure patients of favorable outcomes and functional ability comparable to a natural knee,” says Dr. Manish Samson, Senior Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru.
According to Dr. Samson, knee replacement surgeries are recommended only after exhausting all other treatment options, such as exercise, medication, dietary adjustments, and the use of essential oils for knee pain. The primary goal of these surgeries is to make the patient functionally active with minimal or no pain. Knee replacement surgery not only relieves pain and improves mobility but also corrects any deformities around the knees for the rest of the patient’s life.
Frequently Asked Questions about Knee Pain Surgery
Dr. Samson addresses some common queries regarding knee pain surgery:
1. When is surgery recommended?
Knee replacement surgery may be recommended in the following cases:
- Wear and tear in the knee joint leading to stiffness and severe knee pain that restricts day-to-day activities
- Pain while resting, either during the day or at night
- Chronic inflammation of the knee due to long-standing arthritis that does not improve with medications and rest
- Knee deformity
- Failure of non-surgical methods, such as medications, injections, and physiotherapy
- Arthritis due to old fractures that have healed improperly
2. What is the ideal age for an arthritic patient to undergo knee replacement surgery?
There is no specific age for knee replacement surgery. It can be performed at a young age or during geriatric years, depending on the severity of knee damage. Some forms of arthritis can cause advanced joint arthritis at a young age, making knee replacement surgery an early option. On the other hand, age-related wear and tear, known as osteoarthritis, typically occurs after the age of 60.
The decision to proceed with knee replacement surgery is based on the severity of the condition and the failure of other non-operative methods.
3. Can both knees be operated on simultaneously?
Yes, both knees can be simultaneously operated on after thorough medical and cardiac evaluations. The final decision is made based on the patient’s medical reports, preferably for patients without major medical issues.
4. How fast is the recovery after knee replacement? Can a patient squat after knee replacement?
Patients can typically return to normal activities within 3 to 4 weeks after knee replacement surgery. Yes, patients can squat after surgery if they were able to do so before the procedure. With self-exercise, the use of modern implants, and advanced surgical techniques performed by experienced joint replacement surgeons, patients can squat and even sit cross-legged after about 6 months of recovery.
5. What happens if the surgery fails?
In cases where knee replacement surgery has failed or complications arise over time, revision knee replacement surgeries can be offered. Experienced joint replacement surgeons can resolve most problems, making the patient active and pain-free again.
6. Is knee replacement surgery painful? Do all patients need physiotherapy after surgery?
While knee replacement surgeries were previously associated with significant pain, orthopedic surgeons now work with pain management experts to effectively control pain using various intervention blocks and sustained medications. This makes it easier for surgeons to operate on both knees simultaneously, achieving the same results as operating on one knee at a time.
The need for post-surgery physiotherapy varies depending on the surgeon, surgical technique used, and the patient’s pre-surgery activity level and motivation.
7. How can you protect your knee replacement?
After surgery, it is important to follow these rules to protect the new knee:
- Engage in regular light exercise to maintain strength and mobility.
- Avoid falls and injuries.
- Attend routine follow-up appointments and have your new knee examined.
- Treat any infections in the body promptly and as directed by physicians.
Remember, knee replacement surgery should be considered as a last resort for knee pain. However, if you’ve exhausted all other options and failed to find relief, surgery may be a viable solution to alleviate your pain.