Joint replacement surgery is also known as arthroplasty. If your knee has been damaged by age-related osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic arthritis, dislocation or fracture, Dr Khumalo may suggest a total knee replacement. During this procedure, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed and replaced with prosthetic components made from a range of materials including metal, ceramic, and plastic.
A total knee replacement consists of three components – the tibial, femoral and patellar component. Under general anaesthesia, your orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision across the front of your knee to gain access to the kneecap. Dr Khumalo will then rotate the patella (kneecap) so that he can access the other parts of the knee beneath it. The damaged bone and cartilage is then removed, and the femur (thighbone) is prepped for the femoral component, which is cemented in place. Next, the tibia (shin bone) is prepared for the prosthesis, and the tibial component is put into place. Before putting the patella back into position, it is readjusted and the prosthetic patellar component is fixed onto it. Finally, before closing the incision, your orthopaedic surgeon will bend and flex the knee to ensure that the implant is working correctly.
Recovery after a total knee replacement will depend on the severity of the arthritis or fracture as well as each patients' medical health and existing conditions. In this way each surgery and recovery process is unique. Your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to discuss rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any lifestyle changes that might be required post-surgery. You will be asked to get up and walk within a day of surgery to aid recovery. This may be difficult, but you will be given either parallel bars, crutches, a walker, or a cane for a while to help you get up.
You can expect to experience some pain and swelling for the next few weeks. You may be advised by Dr Khumalo to do exercises with the help of physiotherapy to help regain strength, mobility and coordination of the knee joint. These exercises should be done daily to strengthen muscles and keep swelling down. You should be able to feel an improvement within a month of surgery.
Lifestyle changes may have to be made after surgery as you may need to permanently avoid or reduce activities that require heavy lifting, climbing or high-impact.