Posted by Sara Zuboff on April 10, 2017
Severely damaged knees, either from conditions like arthritis or athletic injury, can make it difficult for people to perform daily tasks including: walking, climbing stairs and running without pain. This pain can make what is seen as a simple activity, sitting up or even lying down, a painful task that may require help. The answer for these patients is either a total knee replacement (total knee arthroplasty) or partial knee replacement.
Most often these procedures are last resorts, when medications, walking supports and non-surgical pain relieving treatments have not been effective. Patients who are candidates for either partial or full knee replacements are those who:
A joint replacement surgery can be an effective treatment for the proper candidates and can help return patients to pain-free function. Innovations in knee replacement surgery has made these treatments two of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. There are more than 600,000 knee replacements performed in the US. each year, a number that continues to rise.
Though there are many causes of chronic joint pain and disability with the most common being arthritis. There are three types of arthritis that can cause chronic knee pain:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by age-related wear of the knee cartilage. When there is wear and tear on the cartilage, the bones may rub together which can cause pain, stiffness and edema.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that causes chronic inflammation and thickening of the synovial membrane around the knee. This causes cartilage damage and eventually leads to cartilage loss, which is accompanied by pain and swelling.
Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after a serious knee injury, like a bone fracture to the tibia or femur, which can damage the cartilage. Once the cartilage is damaged, it is more prone for further injury, leading to more pain and a decrease in knee function.
Knee joint replacement surgery, or knee arthroplasty, is essentially resurfacing of the knee. The connected pieces of the bones within the joint are replaced with synthetic materials to rebuild the knee joint. For total knee replacements, patients will recover in a hospital for a few days and begin physical therapy while in the hospital.
A partial knee replacement, also called a unicompartmental arthroplasty, is an option for patients that have pain in only one area of the knee joint. Partial knee replacement is resurfacing of the damaged part of the knee, while conserving ligaments and unaffected cartilage. Partial knee replacements have the following advantages over total knee replacements:
90% of knee replacement surgical patients have immediate relief after partial or full knee replacement treatment. Up to 90% are able to have their knee replacement joints last up to 10 years. Physical therapy plays an important role in increasing the success rate of knee joint replacement treatments.
A vigorous physical therapy rehabilitation program will be set up by soon after knee joint replacement with treatment beginning soon after the procedure. Recovery time will depend on a number of variables, but usual time to full recovery from a knee replacement can be as little as three months. Some people might take longer to recover, where they could take up to six months to regain full muscle strength and mobility, and feel really comfortable with their leg joint again. It’s important to have a physical therapy regimen that is adapted to the individual and their specific needs and healing capacity.
As part of the rehabilitation process, physical therapists will use diverse physical therapy modalities to address specific issues that arise as a result of a joint replacement treatment including:
Whether a patient undergoes a partial or full knee replacement, it’s imperative to have a good rehabilitation regimen in place to ensure the success of the procedure and the longevity of the replacement joint. Utilizing innovative and diverse physical therapy modalities available to clinicians and customizing regimens based on an individual’s specific needs help improve recovery outcomes. With the right treatment and tools, it’s possible to return joint restore patients to daily activities and function without debilitating pain.
All prices are in USD.