Arthritis of the knee is a common condition. Unfortunately, it is also quite painful and it can severely restrict movement in patients.
Patients suffering from this condition may find it difficult to walk, sit for long periods of time or bend. If arthritis of the knee is in the beginning stages, doctors prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
However, in chronic cases, where non-surgical treatment options are ineffective in bringing down pain, doctors may recommend total knee replacement surgery.
This is one of the most common surgical procedures in people suffering from arthritis of the knee even though from time to time, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of this surgery in patients suffering from arthritis of the knee.
The knee is a hinge joint that connects the upper leg (thigh) with the bone of the lower leg. Arthritis of the knee is mainly caused by the wearing away or fragmentation of the cartilage. Therefore, the objective of surgery is to replace the cartilage.
In the surgery, the end of the bone of the knee is replaced with a shell made of metal. The end of the bone in the lower leg is also replaced with a plastic piece.
The surgery, as you can guess, is a major procedure. Therefore, the decision to have the surgery must not be taken lightly.
The jury is out on this one. While some patients have experienced complete recovery following surgery, others have experienced recurrence of pain after a while.
According to studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, knee replacement surgeries may produce only short term relief, much like physiotherapy or medication.
In one study, researchers at the University of Western Ontario subjected 178 people suffering from arthritis of the knee to different treatments based on the severity of their condition.
While some underwent knee replacement surgeries, others were treated with a combination of medication and physiotherapy. The results were revisited after two years. Interestingly, both groups came back with nearly the same levels of stiffness and pain.
According to some studies, knee replacement surgeries had greater success when it was performed in younger patients.
According to Dr. Michael Kelly of the Install Scott Kelly Institute of Orthopedics in New York City, of the 84 patients (under the age of 55) who underwent knee replacement, 82 patients enjoyed better levels of activity following the surgery.
In a follow up study that took place after 18 years, almost 94% of patients were still enjoying better levels of activity. This means that knee replacement could have beneficial effects in young people suffering from arthritis of the knee.
The best way to manage arthritis of the knee is to lose weight, exercise regularly and take medications as prescribed.