Osteoarthritis surgery is often the last resort for patients with knee arthritis, but when should a patient get one? Learn more about this procedure below.
In this article:
- How Can Knee Arthritis Affect Patients’ Lives?
- What Are the Treatment Options Before Knee Osteoarthritis Surgery?
- When Should You Consider Osteoarthritis Surgery?
- What Are the Factors to Consider Before Getting Osteoarthritis Surgery?
- What Are the Kinds of Osteoarthritis Surgery?
- What Should You Expect During Knee Replacement Surgery?
- How Long Will a New Knee Implant Last?
- Why Might Patients Require a Revision?
Everything You Need To Know About Osteoarthritis Knee Surgery
How Can Knee Arthritis Affect Patients’ Lives?
Osteoarthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis happens when bone cartilage deteriorates resulting in painful and swollen joints. As this condition progresses, growths or bone spurs may develop and tiny bone fragments and cartilage may break off in the joint.
Osteoarthritis is one of the more dramatic musculoskeletal disorders. Inflammation can worsen the wearing down of the affected areas.
Initially, patients with this condition will experience pain and stiffness but it can progress to a point where performing even daily tasks can be very difficult–getting dressed, getting out of bed, or walking up and downstairs.
It can put patients at higher risks of falling. If the pain becomes really debilitating and you ended up becoming sedentary, it may result in other medical conditions like:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
What Are the Treatment Options Before Knee Osteoarthritis Surgery?
At present, there are no known cures for osteoarthritis. However, there are many ways to manage it.
Losing weight and dialing back on activities which stress the knees. Every step you make puts three times your body weight on your knees, five times if you’re running.
Doing light physical activities which are gentle to the knees like swimming, using an elliptical trainer, and biking. This can help you lose pounds and decrease strain on your knees and strengthen the muscles surrounding them.
Yoga, tai chi, and stretching may help with stiffness. Patients may also use ambulatory aid like canes to redirect the pressure off the knees.
Doctors may recommend physical therapy to stretch and strengthen knee muscles. They may also prescribe you with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs or supplements for pain relief.
These medications, however, have side effects like heartburn, stomach pain, and in worse cases liver damage.
Aside from oral medication, anti-inflammatory creams and gels are available for joint pain relief.
If oral and topical solutions can’t relieve your symptoms anymore, corticosteroid injections are often the next suggested course of action. While these are effective at reducing inflammation and pain, the benefit is short-term and frequent use may cause damage.
Lastly, hyaluronic acid injections can also improve knee osteoarthritis symptoms.
When Should You Consider Osteoarthritis Surgery?
Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition. Over time it can get worse and patients may reach a point where non-surgical treatment options no longer work.
If this happens, your doctor may suggest osteoarthritis surgery or another type of surgery.
If your X-ray shows a substantial issue (bone rubbing against another), it might be best to consider knee replacement surgery.
To further help with the decisions, consider these questions:
- Has the pain become unbearable?
- Has your knee become very unstable?
- Are your daily task affected?
- Is the pain causing sleep problems?
- Is the pain affecting your job and threatening your income?
What Are the Factors to Consider Before Getting Osteoarthritis Surgery?
One major factor is your age. If you’re in your forties or fifties, you might get less satisfied with the surgery because it will prevent you from being active as how you’d like.
After recovery, most patients enjoy a return to all function performing day-to-day activities without pain. However, running and jumping are to be avoided if you have an implant. Kneeling may also be challenging after surgery.
This can be an issue for younger patients, especially those with kids. For someone who’s not particularly active, there shouldn’t be any concern.
Another factor to consider is recovery time. Doctors would suggest setting aside eight to ten weeks for recovery.
If you go back to work before completely recovering, or you don’t do the prescribe post-op exercises, you may experience stiffness and range of motion problems.
Finally, there the possibility of post-op pain and general risks of blood clots, pneumonia, or infection.
Make sure to discuss your options with your doctor to determine when is surgery right for you.
What Are the Kinds of Osteoarthritis Surgery?
There are three surgeries for knee osteoarthritis.
In this surgery, the surgeon will take a part of the bone to correct and reposition the alignment of the knee joint. This will decrease the stress on the area with arthritis and reduce pain and other osteoarthritis symptoms.
Arthroplasty (Total Knee Replacement)
In this surgery, the surgeon will either perform a total or partial arthroplasty. For the former, the surgeon will replace all of the damaged knee joint cartilage with prostheses; just a part of the joint for the latter.
Prostheses are commonly made of ceramic, plastic, or metals like titanium.
This is a less invasive option than joint replacement. The surgeon will make a tiny incision to clean up a patient’s knee joint by removing any damaged tissue or cartilage to prevent it from getting worse.
While this procedure might sound better than knee replacement, most of the time, it’s not the best option. Consult your doctor or surgeon to see if this option is the best one for you.
What Should You Expect During Knee Replacement Surgery?
Most patients can walk with the help of a walker or crutches the day of the surgery or the next. A few hours after the procedure, you will undergo physical therapy to train how to bend and straighten your new knee.
Once you return home, regular therapy for weeks is required. You’ll have to perform exercises designed to improve your knee’s functionality.
If your condition is more severe or you lack the needed support at home, you may be advised to stay at a nursing or rehabilitation facility.
You will also be prescribed with pain medication for the first few weeks after the procedure.
How Long Will a New Knee Implant Last?
Depending on the patient’s age, weight, activity level, and medical condition, implants can have a limited life expectancy. The longevity of a total joint implant varies from patient to patient.
Keep in mind an implant is a medical device subject to wear and mechanical problems. It is important to follow all of your surgeon’s post-op advice but there is no guarantee your new knee will last for a specific duration.
Why Might Patients Require a Revision?
Much like your natural joint, the replacement will also wear out over time. The most common revision reason is the loosening of the implant from the bone.
The plastic spacer may also wear out which might require a replacement. Surgeons will explain these possibilities before they perform the procedure.
To learn more about osteoarthritis, check out this video from Nucleus Medical Media:
Osteoarthritis is a painful, debilitating condition. Luckily, there are many treatment options available for OA sufferers.
Manage the progression of your osteoarthritis with this natural supplement by Dr. Seeds.
Do you have any questions about osteoarthritis of the knee? Let us know in the comments section below!