13 Myths About Total Knee Replacement (TKR), Busted!
Written and reviewed by
M.CH. (Ortho), MS - Orthopaedics, MBBS
Orthopedic Doctor, Delhi
Myths about Total Knee Replacement
Myth#1 - Knee replacement is a surgery for old people. “I’m too young for a knee replacement.”
Fact - Candidacy for a knee replacement is not based on age, but on the person’s level of pain and immobility. Living with a painful joint that prohibits you from working or participating in normal life activities is an outdated way of thinking. Age is not necessarily a limiting factor. Often times, a patient is actually fearful about the uncertainty of surgery. Once they are able to resume many of the activities they enjoyed before the surgery, with increased mobility and with less pain, they are very happy they had the surgery. The quality of life one achieves by living without knee pain is priceless.
Myth#2 - “I should wait as long as possible to undergo knee replacement surgery”
Fact - You don't need to suffer by waiting until the pain is intolerable. The longer life of joint replacements enables people to consider surgery earlier and at a younger age. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that continues to damage the joint and delaying surgery makes both surgery and return to activity more difficult. Delaying surgery lowers a patients’ quality of life not only before the operation, but even for up to two years following surgery.
Myth#3 - “I should continue with medications as long as possible”
Fact - Medicines including painkillers just give symptomatic relief for a temporary duration and prolonged usage is riddled with serious side effects such as renal failure, peptic ulceration etc. All these medicines are NOT curable.
Myth#4 - Alternative therapies such as acupressure, ozone treatment, massage beds, oils, laser therapy, magnetic therapy; braces will cure my advanced arthritis and knee pain.
Fact - Till date there is NO cure for advanced knee arthritis and these alternate therapies are not backed by established scientific data. All these modalities give temporary pain relief in early to moderate arthritis for some duration only and are NOT curative. Often times, a patient who is actually fearful about the uncertainty of surgery lands up trying these in order to avoid surgery.
Myth#5 - After a knee replacement, it takes months to recover.
Fact - Depending on the activity, most patients who undergo knee replacement are able to perform routine tasks within a few weeks. A return to rigorous activity takes only a few months. One becomes independent for himself before discharge from hospital. There’s no prolonged best rest required after the surgery.
Myth#6 - After knee replacement, I’ll have to give up some activities and sports.
Fact - You have a high probability of getting back to activities like brisk walking or cycling in 6 to 12 weeks. It will take a bit longer to return to more rigorous activities and contact sports. Squatting and sitting cross legged though possible but at best should be kept to minimal.
Myth#7 - Knee replacement surgery leaves a large scar that is noticeable.
Fact - Scarring is minimal compared to traditional surgery. In fact, the scar is typically only 3 to 5 inches long. As time passes, the scar will fade and become less noticeable.
Myth#8 - Knee replacement is a very painful surgery. There is lots of pain in post operative period.
Fact - With modern day pain management such as in a multimodal approach, ensures that the patient does not feel any pain in post op period and has a smooth recovery.
Myth#9 - Knee replacement is done one at a time.
Fact - Both the knees can be operated at the same time if the patient does not have significant co morbidities and is deemed fit to undergo the procedure by the doctor.
Myth#10 - The new knee lasts for 5-6 yrs. only.
Fact - With modern day precision including computer assisted knee replacement and advancement in biomaterials, the survivorship has increased considerably. Today's joint replacements last 25 years or longer and, for most people, will last a lifetime.
Myth#11 - Knee replacement cannot be done a second time.
Fact - Knee replacement can be done multiple times what is called as a revision joint replacement surgery with good survivorship.
Myth#12 - “I am obese, I cannot undergo Knee replacement surgery.”
Fact - Knee replacement can be successfully done in an obese patient though the recovery is somewhat prolonged and might require additional implants. However, patients who are morbidly obese and have restricted mobility primarily due to obesity are better off after a bariatric procedure.
Myth#13 “I have diabetes or hypertension or heart ailment, so I cannot undergo Knee replacement surgery.”
Fact - diabetes hypertension or heart.
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