According to the Mayo Clinic, knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful orthopedic operations. Knee replacements are also becoming increasingly more common. More than 580,000 knee replacements are performed in the United States each year and the number is growing, according to the American Medical Association. There are two types of knee replacements: a total replacement (TKR) during which the entire joint is replaced and a partial replacement that is performed when only one part of the knee is damaged. TKR is the more common surgery, and this article provides information on TKR and its success rate.
The success rate of TKR is over 90 percent, and most patients who have the operation "experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities of daily living," according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). While the success rate is high, normal use and activity will cause the joint to wear and most replacements last 15 to 20 years. The number of years your new joint will last varies based on a variety of factors including your weight, activity and overall health.
The rate of serious complications like heart attack, stroke or joint infection following TKR is less than 2 percent. However, as with all surgeries, there are risks. For TKR, these risks include infection, reaction to the anesthesia and damage to nearby blood vessels, bones or nerves. You also must be vigilant to ensure that minor infections don't become major problems after surgery. Even minor sinus, urinary tract, respiratory tract or dental infections can spread through your bloodstream to your new joint, so treat them immediately.
After leaving the hospital, you will go to outpatient physical therapy two to three times a week for two to six months. In addition, you will have daily exercises to do at home to help with the bending (flexing) and straightening (extension) of your new knee.
Post Surgery Limitations
After surgery, you will be able to resume most of your normal activities, but there will be some limitations. After a TKR, you must avoid high-impact exercises like running, jogging or contact sports.
When to have knee surgery is a decision you should make in conjunction with your healthcare provider. Usually more conservative methods like physical therapy and knee injections are tried before a TKR is considered. The impact your knee pain is having on your life should also be weighed. TKR is often considered if a patient has one or more of the following: constant pain; inability to sleep because of knee pain; inability to work; or the inability to walk more than three blocks because of pain.