Knee replacement surgery – also called ‘arthroplasty’, basically involves replacing a damaged, or, ‘worn-out’ or knee with an artificial one.
As we age, the hard cartilage that covers the ends of your tibia (shin bone) and your femur (thigh bone) wears down (degenerates). In some cases on heavily-loaded parts of the knee it can wear away completely to the bone. This condition is known as osteoarthritis. (See picture below)
Knee replacement surgery is a very common operation, more than 70,000 knee replacements are carried out in England and Wales each year, and the number is rising. Knee replacements are usually performed because of severe pain caused by osteoarthritis, and most are performed in people aged over 65 years.
Not everyone who has osteoarthritis needs a joint replacement. However, if you’ve been offered one it’s likely because you have severe pain, swelling and stiffness in your knee joint, which interferes with you leading a normal life. For example, the symptoms may affect your ability to walk properly and get a good night’s sleep; everyday tasks, such as bathing, shopping , or doing housework may be difficult or impossible and, depending on your job, your ability to work may be impaired.
Surgery is usually very successful. Generally, the first six weeks following the operation are the most uncomfortable, but after this time you should start to walk normally and resume your normal activities. A knee replacement is your ticket to a more active and healthy lifestyle. Once you’ve recovered sufficiently, you can return to many activities that were too painful and difficult prior to the surgery.
It’s imperative to get the right rehabilitation to make the most of your new knee. With a correctly structured programme, including progressive strengthening, balance and stretching exercises, you should have a pain-free knee and be able to return to activities. If you’ve recovered sufficiently, even at 12-weeks following your operation you could resume tennis, weight training, cycling and dancing, with the appropriate medical approval.
See here for a few exercises that you can do at home to help strengthen your knee.
For a structured rehabilitation programme to help you get the most of your new knee click here.