Total knee replacement surgery, also known as total knee arthroplasty, is a common orthopedic procedure that involves replacing a damaged knee joint with an artificial implant. This procedure is typically recommended for people with severe arthritis or other joint problems that have not responded to less invasive treatments, such as physical therapy, medication, or injections.
Total knee replacement surgery is generally considered safe and effective. However, as with any surgery, there are risks and potential complications. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common issues and risks that may arise following a total knee replacement
Infection is one of the most serious complications that can occur following a total knee replacement. Although the risk of infection is less than 2%, if left untreated, it can have devastating effects.
Symptoms of an infection around the knee replacement may include fever, chills, redness, swelling, and pain. In severe cases, the implant may need to be removed and replaced.
To reduce the risk of infection, surgeons typically take several precautions, such as administering antibiotics before and after surgery, using sterile techniques during the procedure, and closely monitoring patients for signs of infection following surgery.
Blood clots are another potential complication that can arise with total knee replacement surgery.These clots can form in the legs or lungs and, if left untreated, can lead to serious problems such as pulmonary embolism or stroke.
To minimize the risk of blood clots, patients are often prescribed blood thinners and encouraged to move their legs frequently after surgery. In some cases, compression stockings may also be recommended.
Problems with the knee replacement implant are rare, they can still occur. For instance, the implant could become loose or move out of place. It could also break or wear out over time. In some cases, these problems may need another surgery to be fixed.
Implant problems may be caused by several factors, including a poorly designed or improperly placed implant, a defect in the implant material, or excessive stress on the joint from factors such as being overweight or engaging in high-impact activities.
Nerve and blood vessel damage
During total knee replacement surgery, there is a possibility that nerves and blood vessels around the knee joint may be damaged, leading to sensations of numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area.
While nerve and blood vessel damage can sometimes resolve on its own over time, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
Reaction to an allergy
Although rare, some people who undergo total knee replacement surgery may experience an allergic reaction to the implant materials used. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include a rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing, among others.
To minimise the risk of an allergic reaction, patients are typically screened for allergies prior to surgery. If a patient is found to be allergic to a specific material, an alternative material may be used for the implant
Stiffness and a small amount of movement
After total knee replacement surgery, it is common for the knee joint to feel stiff and have a limited range of motion. This is usually caused by scar tissue, and physical therapy and exercises to improve flexibility and strength can help.
In some cases, though, physical therapy may not be enough to fix stiffness and limited range of motion, and the problem may need to be fixed with more surgery.
Pain that is chronic
While the primary goal of total knee replacement surgery is to alleviate pain and improve knee joint function, some patients may experience chronic pain following the procedure. This may be due to various factors, including implant problems, nerve damage, or worsening arthritis in other joints.
Chronic pain can be treated with things like physical therapy and painkillers.
During total knee replacement surgery, there is a risk of bone fracture near the knee joint. This risk is higher in individuals with weak bones, such as those with osteoporosis. If a fracture does occur, additional surgery may be necessary to repair it.
To minimise the risk of fracture, surgeons typically use specialised tools to carefully remove damaged bone and prepare the area for the implant. Additionally, patients with weak bones may be advised to take certain supplements or medications to strengthen their bones prior to surgery.
During total knee replacement surgery, bleeding around the surgical site is a potential complication, but it is typically managed by the surgical team. However, in rare cases, excessive bleeding can occur, which may require a blood transfusion or additional surgery to address.
To reduce the risk of excessive bleeding, patients are typically screened for bleeding disorders before surgery. Additionally, medications that increase the risk of bleeding, such as aspirin, are usually discontinued before the surgery. During the procedure, the surgical team takes steps to minimise bleeding, such as using specialised surgical techniques and devices.
Most people who have total knee replacement surgery can expect to be back to normal in a few weeks to a few months. However, some people may have a longer recovery time. This can happen for a number of reasons, like problems during or after the surgery, underlying health problems, or not following post-surgery instructions.
For the best recovery, patients are usually told to go to physical therapy, do the exercises their doctors give them, and follow any other instructions about medications or follow-up appointments.
In a nutshell people with severe knee joint problems can get total knee replacement surgery, which is safe and works well. At BLK-Max Hospital, doctors use high-quality implants that are made to last for many years. The team closely watches patients for any signs that the implant is failing or coming loose. After knee replacement surgery, it’s also common to feel stiff and have a limited range of motion. The team works closely with each patient to make a personalized physical therapy plan that will help them move and be flexible again after surgery.
Even though the risks and possible complications of the procedure aren’t too high, patients should be aware of them and work closely with their surgeon to reduce their risk and speed up their recovery. Talk to your doctor about any worries or questions you have about total knee replacement surgery. This will make sure you have all the information you need to make decisions about your care that are in your best interest.