All you need to know about the causes that lead to a knee replacement surgery

A knee replacement is a surgical procedure performed on the knee joint to replace one or more damaged areas with an artificial joint. The affected cartilage areas are removed, along with a small portion of the underlying bone. These parts are then replaced with metal components to recreate the joint. The patella is sometimes resurfaced with the help of a plastic button. By placing a plastic spacer between metal components, a smooth gliding surface is ensured. If two or all three components of the knee (medial, lateral and patellofemoral) require surgery, a total knee replacement is done. If the damage is confined to one compartment, a partial knee replacement is performed.

When should you see a doctor for a knee replacement?

There can be many causes for knee pain. But most of the time the pain subsides with exercise and/or medication. If the following symptoms don’t subside even after taking medication, exercising, going for therapy, and losing weight, it is time to consider a surgery:

  • Severe knee pain that interferes with your daily functioning
  • Pain that continues to trouble you even while your knee is at rest
  • Knee swelling or inflammation that stays for a long period of time
  • Stiffness of the knee

What conditions require a knee replacement surgery?

The most common cause of knee pain is arthritis. Other factors that contribute to the damage include developmental abnormalities, repetitive injury, genetics, and obesity. But primarily, the following types of arthritis lead to knee pain:

  1. Osteoarthritis

This is a condition in which the cartilage on the gliding surface of the knee wears away, causing the bones to rub directly against each other. This results in pain and stiffness, as well as decreased mobility. It is common in people older than 50 but also in those with a family history. Lifestyles that involve a lot of physical activity like those of athletes and labourers also stress the joints and may cause osteoarthritis.

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the synovial membrane which provokes it to produce excess synovial fluid and get inflamed. It also causes damage to the articular cartilage.

  1. Traumatic arthritis

This results from a serious knee injury. The trauma to the articular cartilage may even develop into osteoarthritis over time.

Other conditions include:

Avascular necrosis, which is a condition that causes knee degeneration and is usually seen in young adults and adolescents. The bone becomes soft and loses cohesion with the main bone, resulting in the joint becoming loose. The separated fragments can be small or large and cause instability, pain and joint locking.

Abnormal formation or alignment, which puts high pressure on the joint, causing degeneration. Also called knock-knees or bow-leg, it creates an unnatural angle between the femur and tibia, and this gradually wears away the cartilage in an uneven manner.

A total replacement usually takes around one and a half to three hours to complete. If it is a minimally invasive surgery, recovery is faster and the patient is able to get on with daily life much sooner. After the surgery, a significant improvement is seen in mobility, daily activities, and the quality of life in general. Of course, there is also a decrease in pain levels. If you think you require a knee replacement, do consult a doctor at a trusted organisation such as Apollo Spectra.