Knee replacement procedures are surgeries that remove part or all of a damaged or diseased knee joint, replacing it with a prosthetic, or artificial, joint. These procedures are the most common form of joint replacement surgery and are performed in approximately 600,000 patients every year in the United States. So why do so many people need knee replacement? Here we'll look into what conditions commonly lead to knee replacement surgery and a number of facts and statistics about these procedures that may be helpful to those considering a means of treatment.
About Knee Replacement Surgery
Joint replacement surgery is generally considered to be a last resort treatment for serious joint damage or deformity caused by injury or disease that has resulted in chronic pain, reduced joint function, and disability. Since the knee, a hard-working and weight-bearing joint, is the most prone to this sort of severe damage, it is the joint most commonly replaced. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, knee replacement surgery offers safe and effective treatment for patients who have difficulty performing simple activities like walking or climbing stairs and who no longer get relief from knee pain and disability with medications or walking aids.
Conditions That Commonly Require Knee Replacement
While there are many types of joint problems, diseases, and injuries that can lead to knee replacement surgery, osteoarthritis is, by far, the most common reason these procedures become necessary. Known as the "wear-and-tear" form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs as cartilage that cushions the joints wears away gradually over a period of years. As the cartilage thins, the bones that come together to form the joint begin to grind against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, inflammation, and, as the disease advances, bone spurs around the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another disease that ranks high on the list of common conditions that lead to knee replacement. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks joint linings, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness, and in advanced cases, degeneration and/or deformity in affected joints.
Other common conditions that often lead to knee replacement are traumatic arthritis, which generally happens due to a previous serious injury to the knee, and deformities in the knee that cause poor joint alignment, leading to damage due to abnormal wear. Acute traumatic injuries to the knee can also make joint replacement surgery necessary.
Important Facts and Statistics About Knee Replacement
If knee replacement has been recommended for you, here are some things to consider as you weigh that advice. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. Serious complications are rare, occurring in less than 2 percent of patients, and more than 90 percent of people who have these surgeries experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in mobility, leaving them better equipped to live healthy, active lives.
However, knee replacement, like any joint replacement surgery, is a serious procedure. Recovery and rehabilitation after surgery will be a long, challenging process, and the improvements in pain levels and mobility you can expect from those procedure may take months to realize. While the benefits are quite significant and far outweigh these hardships for most patients who have these procedures, it is important to know at the outset that knee replacement is by no means a quick and easy fix for joint problems.