About Knee Replacement
Orthopedic conditions like arthritis can severely damage knee cartilage, which cushions your bones and allows the joint to move smoothly. Damage to this cartilage can cause severe pain, swelling, and stiffness in your knee, which can greatly interfere with everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs.
Dr. Cahill generally begins treatment of knee arthritis with nonsurgical methods like medications, physical therapy, and activity modification. For some patients, nonsurgical treatment is sufficient in managing arthritis symptoms. However, patients with more severe or advanced cases of arthritis may need surgical intervention to relieve pain and restore function in the knee. For these patients, Dr. Cahill may recommend knee replacement surgery.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is the largest joint in the body and is made of the lower end of the femur (thighbone) and the upper end of the tibia (shinbone). The kneecap, or patella, rests at the front of the joint.
In a healthy knee, cartilage covers the surfaces of the bones where they meet, allowing for easier motion within the joint. C-shaped wedges of tissue called menisci act as shock absorbers between the femur and tibia, and a thin tissue called the synovial membrane line the joint, secreting a fluid that lubricates the joint. Ligaments hold the joint together and provide stability.
Arthritis or injury can interfere with the normal function of the knee, damaging the normal structure. This can cause pain, muscle weakness, and reduced function in the knee and may eventually require surgical intervention if nonsurgical treatment is not helpful.
Candidates for Knee Replacement Surgery
Only a proper orthopedic evaluation by a qualified specialist can determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for knee replacement surgery. However, if any of the following symptoms apply to you, you may wish to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
- Severe pain and/or stiffness in the knee, particularly if it limits everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or bending
- Pain that occurs even while the knee is at rest
- Inflammation and swelling in the knee that does not improve with nonsurgical treatment like rest and medication
- Symptoms that persist and do not improve even after an extensive course of nonsurgical treatment
- Deformity of the knee, such as an inward or outward bowing of joint
During an orthopedic evaluation, Dr. Cahill typically takes a complete medical history and performs a physical examination to assess motion, stability, and strength in the knee. X-rays and other imaging tests may also be used to assess the extent of the damage in the knee.
Knee Replacement Procedure
During a knee replacement procedure, the damaged portions of the knee are replaced with artificial implants designed to mimic the function of a healthy knee.
First, Dr. Cahill prepares the bone by removing the damaged surface material. This allows Dr. Cahill to fit the metal components to the joint. The metal components of the implant cover the ends of the bones in the joint, creating a smooth joint surface. Once the metal components are in place, a plastic spacer is inserted between them to allow the newly-resurfaced joint to glide smoothly with movement. In some cases, the underside of the kneecap may also be resurfaced with a plastic button.
Recovery from a Knee Replacement
In most cases, patients begin walking and moving the knee as soon as possible after surgery. Medications may be given to help with pain so that you are able to participate in physical therapy during your recovery.
Physical therapy often begins the day after surgery, or in some cases, even the same day of surgery. The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the leg and restore function in the knee. The physical therapist will give you specific exercises to help you get back to walking and other daily activities.
Most patients are able to resume normal daily activities within 3 to 6 weeks of surgery. However, it is important that you do not resume certain activities until your doctor has indicated that it is safe to proceed. Returning to certain activities too soon could hinder your recovery.
Knee Replacement Surgery in Hackensack, NJ
Dr. James Cahill is committed to providing the highest quality care possible. He specializes in a variety of orthopedic procedures and treatment options, including knee replacement. If you would like to learn more about knee replacement or would like to schedule an appointment for an evaluation with Dr. Cahill, please call our office at (201) 489-0022.