The thought of replacing an entire knee joint may seem intimidating, but the procedure isn’t as invasive as you might think. As a matter of fact, knee replacement surgery is a highly common, routine procedure in Singapore that has been improved over the years with technological advancements.
What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is a type of arthroplasty — a surgical procedure to restore joint function by resurfacing damaged bone and replacing it with an artificial metal or plastic implant called a prosthesis. There are two types of knee replacement surgeries: total or partial. Total knee replacement involves replacing both sides of the knee joint, while partial replacement replaces only one side, removing less bone in the process.
According to Market Scope’s 2019 Knee Arthroplasty Market Report, approximately 40% of the world’s population over 55 years old experience chronic knee pain at some point in their lifetime. The prevalence of knee replacement surgery has grown, with 2.6 million people opting for knee replacement surgery each year. With the advent of new technologies and techniques such as robotics and minimally invasive surgery, patients may benefit from reduced surgical trauma, and shortened operation and recovery times.
Reasons for Knee Replacement Surgery
The most common reason to undergo knee replacement surgery in Singapore and worldwide is to treat degeneration from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis caused by severe injury. Knee replacement surgeries are generally suitable for people who experience:
- Severe knee discomfort that causes difficulty in performing everyday tasks
- Chronic knee inflammation
- A knee deformity, where you may notice an arch on the inner or outer side of the knee
- Pain that impacts your quality of life, including your mental wellbeing.
If medication or physical therapy has not been effective in treating your knee stiffness and pain, your doctor may recommend total or partial knee replacement surgery as the best treatment option. Be sure to talk to your orthopaedic doctor to check if you are eligible for the procedure.
What Happens During the Procedure?
Knee replacement surgery is considered a major procedure — as such, the patient is under general anaesthesia. The surgeon will begin by making an incision over the front (midline) of the knee and remove damaged bone surfaces from the femur and tibia. An artificial ‘space’ is created between these two bones.
This ‘space’, which was previously occupied by healthy cartilage, is replaced with a metal plate and a polymer insert known as a ‘spacer’. These components are designed to recreate the joint surface and move like natural joints, thus replicating healthy joint movement. The undersurface of the kneecap may also be cut and resurfaced.
After the implants are in place, the surgeon will finish by closing the incision. In total, the surgery takes about 3 hours.
What to Expect for Recovery
Patients who have knee replacement surgery will typically be hospitalised and monitored for several days before being discharged. Some pain is to be expected, but it is recommended to move your foot and ankle to encourage blood flow and prevent blood clots. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions on bathing and changing wound dressings. You will need to use crutches to move around for about six weeks after surgery. A follow-up appointment will be arranged for the removal of stitches or surgical staples. It may take three months or so for the pain to subside, and full recovery may take at least a year with the help of physical therapy.
The good news? Individuals who had knee replacement surgery can go on to live active lifestyles, enjoying restored mobility and strength in their knee joint. It may be a daunting procedure, but it can be highly worthwhile as it offers you a pain-free life.
If you have any questions about knee replacement surgery in Singapore, or if you would like to know whether you are suitable for it, reach out to us at OrthofootMD.