Over the last few decades, medical science has reached an impressively high point of being able to help humanity go beyond its natural physical limits. While the human body inevitably breaks down in or otherwise sees its functionality limited in various ways, medical science has progressed far enough to allow some of us to sidestep those and thus has rendered them as inconveniences rather than game-enders as they used to be. Surgery, for instance, has allowed for the possibility of transplanting out or replacing body parts that have become unhealthy or non-functional, and currently the limits of that are still being pushed.
What is Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is a surgical procedure that is typically intended for the resurfacing of damaged portions of the knee, typically worn down by arthritis. During knee replacement surgery, metal and plastic pieces are installed that cap off the kneecap and the ends of the joint. This procedure seeks to more permanently relieve the pain caused by the damage, in a direct manner that cannot be accomplished by other means such as medication.
The knee is essentially a meeting of two long bones (the shinbone or tibia, and the thigh bone or femur), connected as a joint by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Cartilage encases the points where the bones meet in order to prevent friction and thus avoid bone-on-bone scraping and resulting pain. The meniscus is a cartilage portion that acts as a shock absorber, while the patella or kneecap shields the front-facing part of the joint.
Why Do We Need it?
This procedure is treatment for disability in the knee, which is typically caused by inflammation that is accompanied by considerable pain. Such limitation of range of movement, pain, and inflammation tends to be the result of injury, or conditions like osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is mainly seen in the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. The knees are counted upon on a daily basis to carry almost our entire body weight (not to mention the added weight of bags and other things we carry), so they are constantly under an immense amount of stress. By design, they tend to do well even given that, so long as the muscles are properly suited to it and as long as the cartilage holds out. When the cartilage thins, pain begins to be felt as the bones start to scrape. Particularly severe forms of the degenerative disease result in extreme pain for even walking or climbing stairs.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is far more serious in nature (as autoimmune diseases tend to be) but manifests in much the same way. In the long run, medication might not accomplish as much as a patient would need, especially if the condition is particularly advanced; as such, resurfacing the damaged knee area through knee replacement surgery might be necessary.
What Will Recovery Be Like?
Immediately after the surgery, you will be returned to your hospital room once your vitals are stable and you are alert. There will likely be a hospital stay of several days after this, and a physical therapist may meet with you soon after the completion of the surgery in order to guide you in getting the newly-repaired joint moving. This is because moving the renewed joint after surgery is a crucial step that should not be put off.
You may be discharged soon, either to stay at a rehabilitation center or to go home. Should you prefer to go back to your own home, there are preparations that will need to be made in order to make the house more able to facilitate your recovery while suiting your new needs.
How to Prepare Your Home
1. Clear the halls. You’ll be relearning how to walk and move around, so to speak, and it will be immensely helpful to keep hallways and paths clear so you can have minimal trouble navigating from room to room. This may necessitate the repositioning of furniture and décor in order to reclaim space.
2. Prioritize downstairs. If your house is a multilevel one, you may want to create a temporary living space on the ground floor – a temporary bedroom, even. While moving around and using stairs will be an important part of the rehab, not constantly using them yet will minimize the likelihood of strain and injury.
3. Remove your rugs. As part of clearing the halls and even the other spaces, have the rugs all rolled up and stored. Tripping on the ends of rugs, or catching a walker leg or cane on them, or even slipping on a loose rug, are all injury risks you don’t need right now.
4. Clear power cords. Similarly to the rugs, loose and scattered cords represent a serious risk. You’re not going to be able to fully control your movement or compensate for slips and trips, so keep these secure and tucked away. Have someone tape them to the floor along a wall, if possible.
5. Have handrails installed. It’s a good idea to have these installed in strategic places before the surgery even takes place so you can familiarize yourself with their placement, as well as with using them – and so you can have them ready for you when you return from the hospital.
6. Install nightlights. Even plug-in nightlights to help you find your way in the dark will be a godsend during recovery. Again, anything that even minimally minimize the possibility of falling or tripping on something will be a great help during this period.
7. Organize your stuff for ease of access. Eliminate clutter from the house as much as you can, and keep the floors clear as much as possible. Make it easy to get the things you need with a minimum of fuss and rooting around, as you won’t have the mobility that requires. This includes re-figuring out how your clothes in closets should be stored.
8. Don’t neglect the bathroom. Whether it’s handrails, a shower bench, or an elevated toilet seat, small changes can make this room easier for you to use during recovery, not to mention a lot safer and more conducive to moving around.