Total Knee Replacement Myths
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States, with demand for knee replacement surgery expected to exceed 3 million by the year 2030.
While total knee replacement are becoming more and more common, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding knee pain and knee replacement options. Understanding more about knee replacements can help you prepare to talk to your doctor about options.
1. Myth: Osteoarthritis is a growth on the bone that can be scraped off.
Arthritis is not a growth and therefore can’t be scraped away. In a healthy joint there is smooth cartilage covering the end of the bones allowing the joint to easily bend and straighten. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage covering the joints starts to wear away. This leaves a frayed, rough surface and exposed bones that rub against each other when the joint moves. If this damage is mild, surgeons can perform arthroscopic surgery to “clean up” the area by eliminating the rough surface left by the deteriorating cartilage. This does not replace cartilage but can relieve symptoms temporarily. When someone refers to having arthritis “scraped” this is what they are referring to.
2. Myth: Knee replacement implants are only good for about 10 years.
When knee replacements were first developed over 30 years ago, they were more likely to wear out around 10 years after surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, today more than 90% of total knee replacements are functioning well at 15 years, and new research is showing replacements lasting past the 20-year mark.
3. Myth: You can’t exercise or play sports after a knee replacement.
The purpose of knee replacement is to relieve pain, increase range of motion and allow you to return to activities.
After a total or partial knee replacement patients are encouraged to get back to activities. In fact, walking and physical therapy generally begin the day of surgery. Most people can get back to activities including walking, biking or swimming within 6-8 weeks. As healing progresses most people can enjoy activities including golf, tennis and hiking.
4. My doctor says I need a knee replacement but didn’t mention a partial knee replacement? What’s the difference?
At one time full or total knee replacements were the only option for knee joint replacement. With new medical advancements and technology partial knee replacements are now an option for some patients and are becoming more common. With a partial knee replacement only the damaged areas are removed and healthy bone and cartilage is left intact. In a total replacement, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL & PCL) are often removed. With a partial, these ligaments are left intact. The result is a more natural feeling knee that allows you to keep the healthy portions of your knee instead of removing them and replacing them with a full implant.
Even if your surgeon didn’t mention a partial knee replacement, you may be a candidate. Dr. Goradia sees many patients seeking a second opinion when total knee replacement surgery is recommended. Contact us for more information about knee replacements or to make an appointment.