How long have knee replacements been performed?
Knee replacement surgery began in the early 1970s in the United States as well as United Kingdom. It was an influential milestone in the history of orthopedic surgery. Over the last 30 years, the procedure has been refined and enhanced, and is now one of the most successful surgical procedures for the treatment of knee arthritis.
Why is a Total Knee Replacement Surgery Performed?
The most frequent cause of chronic knee pain and disability is arthritis. Although there are many types of arthritis, most knee pain is caused by three types:
- Osteoarthritis – This is typically an age related wear and tear type of arthritis. It normally occurs in people 50 years of age and older, however it may occur in younger people, too. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee begins to soften and wear away. Bones begin to rub against one another causing knee pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – Is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet. Over a long period of time, the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – Is usually caused by a previous injury or other form of trauma. This condition can occur in any joint, including the shoulder, knee and hip.
What is a Knee Replacement?
A knee replacement, which can also be called Arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee damaged by arthritis. Knee replacement surgery is designed to replace the damaged cartilage or gliding surface and any associated loss of bone or ligament support. Prostheses come in numerous configurations designed for replacement of specific patterns of advanced arthritis.
Knee Replacement prostheses can be made of:
- Cobalt chrome
- Polyethylene (Plastic)
Use of a particular implant design, material and fixation method depends on several factors related to each individual patient. The orthopedic surgeon selects the type of knee replacement that best suits each patient based on the amount of bone loss and quality of ligaments supporting the knee.
How Long Does It Take to Recover?
The majority of patients who undergo total knee replacement have sudden improvement within weeks of the procedure. The pain generated by the damaged knee is relieved when a new gliding surface is constructed. After about six weeks most people are walking comfortably with little support. Once muscle strength has been restored, patients who have knee replacement surgery can return to most activities. Except for ones that are high impact.
How Long Will a Total Knee Replacement Last?
The important question patients want to know the answer to. How long will it last?
In the 1970’s, it was thought that the average knee implant would last about ten years. We now know that approximately eighty-ninety percent of knee implants will last twenty years, or longer. With improvements in technology, these number may increase. However, the chances of needing another operation is greater if you’re overweight or involved in heavy manual work.
Dr. William J Bryan is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with a focus on total joint replacement. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment call (713) 441-3470