What Should You Expect After Having A Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
Total knee replacement is a hospital-based surgery. Essentially, what the surgeons are doing is opening up your whole joint (requiring about a ten inch incision), flipping over your kneecap, and cutting out both ends of the bone. This is where the hyaline cartilage has been compromised from chondromalacia, which are little worn out or divot potholes. Think of cavities in a tooth enamel. The nerve endings exposed from the cavity hurt!
Knee replacement surgery is similar to a dental cap or crown procedure, where the surgeon is cuts and grinds down the ends of your bones to create a “post” and then fasten the titanium implant like a cap or crown. Then they flip the knee back over, staple the incision, and voila! Your surgery is done.
It’s not quite that simple – obviously that is a summary, as this takes a few hours and requires a certain level of expertise by the surgeon when it comes to choosing the right implant, etc. Of course, this is done in a hospital because this is a large surgery. There are risks associated with anesthesia, infection, and more. After the surgery, you have to undergo rehab therapy. There’s incisional healing; the wound has to heal. The tissue inside the joint that has been cut and replaced has to heal. The muscles and ligaments will need to heal, and time is depending on how fit or how weak you were prior to having this knee replacement.
The goal of the surgery is to replace the hinge of the joint, by removing the ends of the bone where the nerve endings have been compromised. Everything else that might be causing you pain (the weakness in your quadricep muscles or your hamstrings or the different muscles that help you move your knee around) isn’t just going to magically disappear. You have to work hard at rehabilitating and strengthening those muscles. And it takes hard work and a lot of time to make sure that the implant bends close to 90 degrees and straightens completely. Most of the orthopedic studies that look at function and pain improvement after replacement surgery will wait six months to determine what someone’s new baseline pain and function is going to be. Sadly, a significant percentage of people who have this surgery, even if everything goes perfectly, end up with chronic pain that requires interventional and non-interventional pain management for the life of that joint.
But a total knee replacement isn’t your only option. If there is pain and you are walking with no or minimal assistance then it is likely that your joint is still in good mechanical condition. Chondromalacia – the thinning of the hard cartilage protecting the bones in the knee joint. The unprotected sensory nerve endings are the reason for your knee pain. When this hard cartilage wears down, the nerve endings in your bone are exposed, and it hurts when you walk or put pressure on them. This pain fuels the arthritis inflammation by releasing inflammatory proteins, sort of how heat fuels a hurricane. Without this heat the hurricane dissipates. This is why there are not hurricanes in the winter months. Because your knee is an encapsulated joint (a closed space), the more inflamed the joint gets, the more pressure is put inside of the joint, further compressing the sensory nerve endings causing more pain, which leads to more inflammation. It’s a vicious cycle. However, cutting out the bones to remove these nerve endings entirely is an extreme solution. If you can find a way to turn off the pain, you can stop the osteoarthritis cycle and heal the joint.
That’s what AROmotion is – a FDA approved microprocedure that combines the technologies of radiofrequency neurotomy, orthobiologics, and physical reconditioning to stop the pain, promote healing, and restore your motion. Our minimally invasive procedures can help you avoid a large joint replacement surgery if you are a candidate. To learn more about our treatments and what we do here at AROmotion, and to discover whether you qualify for our procedures, contact us to schedule a consultation or visit aromotion.com