Is Physical Therapy Necessary After Total Knee Replacement?

When is total knee replacement surgery required?

Severe damage or injury to the knee is an alarming sign. Damage to the knee may impair day to day activities like doing daily task, climbing stairs, walking etc. Pain is felt while sitting or lying down. The signs of severe damage to knee includes severe pain in knee, stiffness, no stability, redness in and around knee, negligible movement, and extreme swelling.

A knee replacement surgery is a must if you have moderate or severe knee pain even while resting, chronic knee inflammation, swelling, a deformity in the knee etc. Before deciding up a surgery a full examination of the knee to check the severity of the injury is required. In case of mild to moderate injuries exercises and medication are given at first to provide relief and comfort. But in situation when there is above 80% damage to the knee or there is severe misalignment total knee replacement surgery is must.

However, total knee replacement surgery is performed for people who are above 50 years of age and suffer from severe osteoarthritis. Majorly, people who suffer from severe arthritis are more prone to knee replacement surgery. Various type of arthritis like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post traumatic arthritis end up with a total knee replacement surgery. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease affecting middle-aged and older adults. In this the joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the knee are broken. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the synovial membrane leading to pain and stiffness. Traumatic arthritis is a type of arthritis occurred due to severe injury and has damaged the cartilage of the knee.

For people who are less than 50 years of age if the non-surgical treatments like medications and walking supports are not helpful a total knee replacement surgery is required. It helps to relieve the constant pain, leg deformity, and assumption of normal daily activities.

What is done during the knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery is performed under general anaesthesia or epidural anaesthesia. At the start of the procedure an 8 to 12 inch cut is made in the front of the knee. In the second step the bone is prepared by removing the damaged cartilage surfaces located at the ends of the femur and tibia. These ends are removed along with a small part of underlying bone. Third step involves positioning the metal implants. In this step, the removed parts are replaced by the metal components. To fit the transplant the femur and tibia surfaces are sharped enough to hold a metal or plastic artificial joint. The transplanted parts are cemented or press fit in to the thigh bone, shin and knee cap. Once they are fixed they rely on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support. The third step includes resurfacing the patella or the knee cap. The kneecap is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. However, the resurfacing depends on the position and condition of the knee. In the last step, a spacer is inserted. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.

Risks of knee replacement surgery

The rate with the total knee replacement is extremely low. In rare patients, complication occur. However, if a person is unhealthy and chronically ill than the chances of complications are little higher. The possible complications following surgery are described as follows:

  1. Chances of Infection: In rare cases, infection may occur in the wound or deep around the prosthesis. As a precautionary step, to cure minor infections antibiotics are given in advance. If the infection is major than surgery and removal of prosthesis is the only cure.

  2. Blood clots: In the veins of the leg blood clotting is a common complication. These clots if occurs are life threatening as they even reach to the lungs and block the airways. As a precautionary step, the knee replacement surgery patients are advised to periodically elevate their leg, perform lower leg exercises to increase circulation, support stockings, and are even given medicines for blood thinning.

  3. Problems with the implanted part: The implanted parts may wear down or the components may loosen. Sometimes scarring of the knee occurs due to transplant which limits up the motion further.

  4. Constant mild to severe pain: Some patients continue to have pain after the surgery although its rare. As a precautionary step, the patients are given pain relief drugs.

What to do after the total knee replacement surgery?

The success rate of the surgery depends upon how well the care and precautions are carried out at home after the surgery. The following measures are required after the surgery:

Staying away from infections: It precisely means wound care. The area along the wound would have stitches. These stiches are removed weeks after surgery but special care is taken to maintain hygiene.

Health diet: A diet with lots of iron supplement is recommended as it helps to health the wound faster and provides restoration of muscle strength.

Physiotherapy: It is also called physical therapy which is the most crucial part post-surgery. It is must to be done for initial 2 to 3 months. Physiotherapy helps to restore the knee movement faster and at the same time brings back the knee strength. The exercises aids in faster and wishful recovery. If the physio therapy is not performed post-surgery than it may lead to limited knee movement and instability. They are the most crucial part after the surgery and are a must to be carried out. The more the physiotherapy is performed the more are the success rate and comfort to the patient.

Daily activities: All normal activities must be resumed 3-4 weeks after the surgery. Resuming normal household activities, such as sitting, standing, and climbing stairs are a must to be started after a weeks’ time.

You can find the list of cities in India that provide knee replacement surgery along with their respective prices here

Knee Pain