Your knee is one of the most stressed joints in your body. You may experience pain and may feel it is not easy to move them when any damage occurs to the knee. Consequently, you may be unable to perform your daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking, standing, or sitting, etc., at a normal pace like before due to any knee related issues. These problems may be neglected at some instances, but in more severe cases, your doctor would recommend a knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty).
Knee replacement surgery replaces your damaged knee joint with the prosthesis, i.e., an artificial implant. It is mainly performed, if you have arthritis. The surgery opts for other degenerative conditions of the knee, due to its high success rate for several years. It is considered safe and effective. It is not a new kind of surgery but has been performed since some decades. However, present day procedures are the modified or improved versions of the older one.
But as the coin has two sides. Knee replacement surgery has risks, like any type of surgery. Comparatively, the risk rate is low for a knee replacement surgery. But before you proceed with the surgery, it is good to know about the risks and complications involved during the surgery or after the surgery.
What are the common risks of total knee replacement surgery?
Pain after the knee replacement surgery is rare. But in very few cases you might experience pain. Your doctor will prescribe you pain relieving medications.
The very first and most common risk for any surgery is an infection. You may have infection near the wound or deep around the implant. You may find this soon after the surgery, or after you go home or a few days later. Your doctor would treat minor infections with effective antibiotics. But, when the infection is severe you would require surgery or prosthesis removal. The most complicated issue is that any kind of infection in any of your body part can spread to the implant area. So, you must take care of not getting infected.
Usually, surgeries or any kind of injuries increase your risk of blood clots. This complication is more likely to occur after a surgery like a knee replacement. This is because your body tries to stop the bleeding and close the wound after the surgery. Blood clots block the normal blood flow. You may find blood clots a couple of weeks after the surgery; this may even happen in the operating room or a few days later. To treat this complication, your doctor will prescribe you blood thinning agents (anticoagulants). Blood clotting after the surgery can be high if you’re a smoker or if you are obese.
Although we have many advances in the designs and materials of the implants or surgical techniques, over the period your implants may wear off and loosen up. You may also notice malfunctioning of the implant. Your knee may not have proper range of motion. But no worries! These types of problems are very rare. If there are any issues in the implants, your orthopedic surgeon will perform a revision surgery to fix your problem.
Your muscles leading to the foot may make you feel numb. This problem would disappear within few months as your nerves and tissues heal.
Reduced range of motion
Your range of motion may be affected after the surgery. This can be resolved with special exercises or physiotherapy. It happens due to the scar tissues. Your orthopedic surgeon will recommend you for a follow-up procedure, to break up the scar tissue or to perform any adjustments in the implants.
During your post-operative period you may experience shallow breathing. You would experience this as a side effect of anesthesia, pain medication, and prolonged bed rest. Shallow breathing may make your lungs to collapse and make you more susceptible to pneumonia. It can be fixed by providing spirometer that encourages you to take deep breaths.
Every surgery is associated with certain risks. But the results and outcomes are what matters for us. You will feel better and can relieve your pain, your joint mobility is improved and you can lead a quality life. You can get back to your activities and resume them in a usual manner at least after 3 to 6 weeks after the surgery. When you feel that you are completely fine, with the suggestion of your orthopedic doctor, you can still enjoy activities such as walking, swimming, biking, etc. but you might not be ready for high impact activities, such as tennis, or sports. “All things have brighter and darker sides. Do not just see the darker version or go back by a step.” Lead the best life!
- Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00389, American Academy of Orthopaedics Surgeons.