What is a knee implant?

An orthopaedic surgeon will resurface your damaged knee with artificial components called implants during knee replacement surgery.

There are many different types of implants. The brand and design used by your doctor or hospital depend on many factors, including:

  • Your needs, based on your knee problem and knee anatomy, as well as your age, weight, activity level, and general health
  • Your doctor’s experience and familiarity with the device
  • The cost and performance record of the implant

The longevity of an implant depends primarily on post-operative care. Therefore steps to be taken to improve the life of your implant begin right from the hospital. 

Recovering in the hospital

After surgery, you will likely have to stay in the hospital for up to 4 days, depending on factors such as:

  • your overall health
  • how you manage the exercises
  • whether or not you have help at home

A physical therapist will probably have you exercising and walking with an aid, such as a cane or walker, by the next day.

You may not regain the hoped mobility if you do not follow the prescribed exercise program during and after hospitalization.

The doctor will usually consider that it is safe for you to go home when you:

  • can get in and out of bed without help
  • are using the bathroom without help
  • can manage your pain
  • are eating and drinking
  • are walking with a cane, walker, crutches, or another device on a flat surface
  • can go up and down two to three stairs.
  • can do the required exercises without guidance
  • know the steps for preventing injury
  • know the steps to take to promote healing
  • know how to spot the signs of a complication and when to call a doctor

If you cannot go home, you may need to spend some time in rehabilitation.

It is normal to experience pain after knee surgery, but your doctor can help you manage it. Find out more here.

Recovering at home

When you go home, you may need assistance from a family member or healthcare worker for a while. You will also need to take medication for some time to relieve pain.

You should be able to:

  • walk with a cane or no device in 2–3 weeks
  • drive after 4–6 weeks, depending on what the doctor recommends
  • return to a sedentary job in 4–6 weeks
  • return to a job that involves physical effort in 3 months
  • travel after 4–6 weeks, when the risk of a blood clot has reduced
  • shower after 5–7 days
  • have a bath after 4–6 weeks, when it is safe to soak the wound

Most people find they can return to their daily activities within weeks. Many become more mobile and active than they were before the procedure. They may be able to return to past activities that they had given up due to knee pain.

However, you should not expect to do everything at once. During the first year, you will be regaining strength and flexibility in your knee.

As long as you adhere to an exercise program and stay active, you should continue to see improvements in strength and mobility.

Find some tips on exercises to strengthen your muscles after knee surgery.

High-intensity sports

It may not be appropriate to resume contact sports, even if you feel physically able to.

There is a risk of breaking your artificial knee or causing further damage.

Contact and high-impact sports will contribute to cumulative wear on your implant. In addition, intense activity can impact the lifespan of the implant.

Most experts advise caution when resuming activities such as:

  • skiing
  • running
  • jogging
  • court sports

It is essential to discuss the options with your orthopaedic surgeon.

Pain and Comfort 

Most people undergo knee surgery to reduce pain. However, there will be some pain after surgery, and around 1 in 5 people experience ongoing pain.

When exercising, pain and stiffness levels may depend on the activity.

You may experience:

  • stiffness when starting exercise or after long walks or cycle rides
  • a feeling of “hotness” around the knee

Warming up can help reduce stiffness and lower the risk of damage during exercise.

Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth and taking over-the-counter pain medication can help manage inflammation and pain.

Flexibility and strength

The new knee will not bend as far as your original knee. Activities such as the following may be more difficult:

  • kneeling
  • running
  • jumping
  • intense labour, such as gardening and lifting

However, staying active helps you maintain strength, flexibility, and endurance in the long term.

Exercise helps build bone mass and develops a solid bond between the bone and the implant.

Exercise can also reduce the risk of further bone damage, such as osteoporosis, by strengthening the bones.

Life of an Implant 

The success rate for knee replacement surgery is high, but it’s essential to have realistic expectations about your knee.

Most people experience a reduction in pain and stiffness after surgery and have increased mobility.

ResearchTrusted Source shows that, as well as enabling you to be more active, and a knee replacement can positively impact your energy levels and social life.

Studies have shown that 82 per cent of replacement knees last at least 25 years. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 90 per cent of implants last 15 years or more.

However, your artificial knee is unlikely to function at the same level as a healthy, natural knee.

In addition, the implant alone will not keep you mobile in the long term. To get the best value from it, you will need to:

  • exercise regularly
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • attend all follow-up appointments and follow the treatment plan as the doctor recommends

You will probably have to see your surgeon every 3–5 years to evaluate.

Are you considering knee surgery? Then, book an appointment with Dr Debashish, our specialist in Gurgaon, to weigh your options and make an informed decision.