Knee technology. It’s a thing. And like other technology that improves our lives, it’s evolving. Knee replacements are a common, yet sophisticated procedure and that’s where the technology comes into play.
When your knee joint, or parts of it, is replaced, new parts — so to speak — are used. These new parts are called knee implants. As such, following surgery, your new physiology will be comprised by more than simply plastic and metal. You will have a high-tech knee engineered to improve range of motion, strength and reduce pain.
Many patients are surprised to learn that there are many knee implants from which orthopedic surgeons are able to choose. Knee implant engineers are continually making improvements to their products, which greatly benefit patients with problematic knees. More options in knee implants mean your doctor can find a better solution specific to your needs.
In fact, in the last few years, customized total knee replacements have emerged. Using scientific processes, it is now possible for engineers to develop 3D knee models that can then be used to build implants specific to individual patients. According to the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, “The knee models can be used for patient-specific implant design, biomechanical analysis, and creating bone cutting guide blocks.” Customized knee implants haven’t gone mainstream yet, but it does give us a clue as to what the future will look like for knee replacements.
But what does this mean to you, the patient?
Knee Implant Longevity
Knee implants can now last for at least 20 years. That means, over time, fewer knee replacement revision surgeries, otherwise known as replacements of replacements.
“New technology has increased the durability of knee replacement solutions and longer-lasting implants have led to an increase in the number of younger patients receiving them,” reports Orthopedic Design & Technology. In decades past, surgeons were hesitant to recommend knee replacements to younger patients because of the expected need for subsequent replacement surgeries. But now, implants are tougher and last longer. This opens the door to knee replacement as a possible option for more people.
And when surgeons have more options, patients get better results. Your doctor can find the knee implant that is best suited for your condition. In some cases, knee replacement can be conducted as a minimally invasive surgery.
This is all thanks to the advancements in medicine and technology over the last decade or so. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study, which was reported in The New York Times, concluding that knee replacement surgery overwhelmingly presents better results than therapy alone: “85 percent of patients who got an artificial knee reported pain relief and functional improvement, the study found, compared with 68 percent of patients initially assigned to nonsurgical treatment.”
The big picture view is that improved knee implant technology and more surgical options help reduce pain for many.
What to Expect with Knee Replacement
After the decision has been made by you and your physician to proceed with knee replacement surgery, your doctor will review some options with you. No two patients are the same, so the process and treatment plan is unique to you. In addition to the current state of your knee, your doctor will consider your medical history, review any prescription medications you take and evaluate test results and x-rays.
Your doctor will review with you what types of knee implants he or she has selected for your procedure. You will also be informed of the expected implant lifespan and the normal risks associated with the operation.
Even if minimally invasive surgery isn’t right for you, it’s still possible you could be treated on an outpatient basis. This is another change that has occurred over recent years as the technology has advanced. If a hospital stay is required, it is usually for one to four nights.
Following surgery, you may be standing within hours. Again, this depends on your circumstances. Just like the natural human body, knee implants require movement to stay healthy and strong. Movement will keep swelling down. You will be prescribed a physical therapy regimen to build strength and flexibility.
Living with Knee Implants
After you’ve recovered from surgery, your doctor will advise you on how life will be different. For example, you should not lift heavy objects or participate in high-impact sports. Knee implants are not the same as the human body. You may even hear them as they move and connect inside your knee. And even though advancements have been made, they can get damaged and even break. More or less, you can resume the same lifestyle that you enjoyed prior to surgery, but you must be mindful that you have a new implant replicating your old knee.
Your team at MOSH will help you get the most out of your knee implant. To get started on reviewing your options, contact a MOSH knee specialist today.