Knee Surgery or Arthroscopy: What is it?
You most likely know someone who has had knee arthroscopy, either as a friend or family member, especially if you have contact with seniors. In 2006 there were about 1 million people who had this type of surgery. On an average that is 1 person out of 300 Americans who have had this surgery. And with the increasing aged population, this figure is only increasing. This type of surgery is usually completed when you are conscious and is often a day procedure. It is not total knee replacement. The surgery repairs certain conditions that plague many people and relieves their pain. The operation can repair soft tissue damage such as a torn tendon or small skeletal problems such as fractures in the knee bone.
How to Prepare for a Diagnostic Visit to a Pain Treatment Clinic
- Your pain doctor in New York or pain doctor in New Jersey will ask you about your health history and the medications you are taking currently.
- Your doctor will ask about the knee pain you are experiencing. When do you feel pain? How severe is the pain? What does it restrict you from doing?
- Your doctor may ask you to move your knee, or the doctor may gently manipulate the area.
- To gather further insight, your pain doctor in NY or pain doctor in NJ may order some imaging tests to determine the exact location of the issue.
- Knee surgery is only recommended if less intrusive care has not been successful in alleviating your pain. Such methods of care include: resting the area, or treatment from a physical therapist.
- Your pain doctor may suggest prescription pain medications and injections to reduce the inflammation.
Knee Surgery: What Problems does it Solve?
This procedure can rectify soft tissue issues such as torn ligaments, damaged cartilage, a torn meniscus or swollen synovium (lining in the joint). It can also remove any floating pieces of cartilage that may get trapped in between the bones, put a kneecap back into place, deal with chronic infection or remove a Baker’s cyst. The surgeon can also deal with fractures in the kneecap or patella.
Knee Surgery: How do I get Ready?
There may be some considerations in preparing for surgery.
- You may need to stop taking some medications, such as painkillers, before the surgery.
- For some procedures, you will need to refrain from eating for 6 to 12 hours before the surgery.
- You will need to fill a painkiller prescription, so you can start taking the medication immediately after surgery.
Knee Surgery: What Happens during the Procedure?
- First, you will receive an anesthetic that usually numbs a local area. Sometimes you will feel nothing from the waist down, and in a few cases, you will be unconscious throughout the entire procedure.
- Sometimes a positioning device is placed on your leg to reduce movement during the surgery
- The operation begins with a few small cuts in the area. Your orthopedic surgeon will then introduce a sterile saline solution to enlarge the area around your knee so that the area will be more available for inspection. A small camera will be inserted for observation.
- Once the exact problem has been identified, your surgeon will insert small tools to make the repair. After this is completed, your surgeon will drain the saline from your knee and close the incisions with stitches.
- For most people, the surgery will be completed within an hour.
Knee Surgery: After Surgery Care
- begin the pain medication immediately
- elevate your leg
- use an ice pack on the area to reduce the swelling
- use crutches for a time determined by your surgeon
Within a certain time period, usually, the day after surgery, you will begin an exercise program. It is critical to continue with these exercises to recover the full motion and flexibility of your knee.
You will be able to drive within 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the complications of your procedure.
Depending on the nature of your knee problems, you may need to make some lifestyle changes such as:
- Switching your activities from high impact (running) to lower impact (swimming)
- Losing weight
- Reassignment of work activities or different procedures to complete work tasks to reduce the impact on your knee
Knee Arthroscopic Surgery: Any Complications?
With any surgery, some standard complications can occur.
- bleeding during the operation
- infection at the suture site
- breathing problems or other allergies due to anesthetics
Specific to this type of surgery you may have these issues
- bleeding inside the knee area
- stiffness in moving the knee
- infection in the knee joint
- a blood clot may form
- damage to the soft tissues
Knee Replacement Surgery
Once your expert pain doctor at the pain treatment clinic has diagnosed your issue, it may be that you will need knee replacement surgery. A surgeon who is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), will explain the procedure to meet your needs. There are several different types of knee replacement surgeries from total replacement to partial replacement surgery. Often this type of surgery is needed in cases in which patients have a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.
Knee Surgery: Total Replacement
Typically, this surgery takes several hours. First, your surgeon will remove the damaged areas. Then a new artificial metal joint is inserted and fastened to your bone. Sometimes it is necessary to shape the underside of the patella or kneecap. Finally, the surgeon will insert a plastic spacer to provide a gliding surface for the metal parts of the joint.
Your hospital stay may extend for several days. Often you will begin physical therapy on the day of your surgery. A regimen of exercises is a critical part of recovery
Total Knee Surgery Complications
- Blood Clots: Sometimes blood clots form in your blood vessels, and if a clot travels to your lungs, the situation can be dire. There are several measures to prevent this from happening including support hose, compression leg covers, and blood thinning medications.
- Preventing Pneumonia: It is common for individuals to take shallow breaths after such a serious operation. The nursing staff will advise you to take deep breathes or provide you with a breathing apparatus.
- Infection: Avoid getting the area wet until it is fully healed. Keep a bandage on to prevent irritation from clothing.
- Falls: Any fall can damage this sensitive area. Use assistive devices when moving around. It is advised to avoid stairs if at all possible.
- Knee surgery can be accomplished by minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery or replacement surgery.
- Surgeons from the pain treatment clinic will recommend the least invasive procedure to meet your needs.
- Aftercare is very important with replacement knee surgery. It is essential to follow all of the recommendations put forth by your thoroughly trained surgeon.