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There is some level of inflammation present in all types of arthritis.


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Conditions that fall into the category of true inflammatory arthritis are often very well managed with a variety of medications and more treatments are coming out all the time. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and related conditions need to be evaluated and followed by a physician who specializes in those kinds of treatments called a rheumatologist.

Excellent non-surgical treatments including many new and effective drugs are available for these patients; those treatments can delay or avoid the need for surgery and also help prevent the disease from affecting other joints. So-called non-inflammatory conditions including osteoarthritis sometimes called degenerative joint disease also sometimes respond to oral medications either painkillers like Tylenol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, celebrex, or vioxx but in many cases symptoms persist despite the use of these medications.

It is important to avoid using narcotics such as Tylenol 3, vicoden, percocet, or oxycodone to treat knee arthritis. Narcotics have many side effects, are habit-forming, and make it harder to achieve pain-control safely and effectively after surgery ,should that become necessary. Narcotics are designed for people with short-term pain like after a car accident or surgery or for people with chronic pain who are not surgical candidates. People who feel they need narcotics to achieve pain control should consider seeing a joint replacement surgeon an orthopedic surgeon with experience in knee replacements to see whether surgery is a better option.

There is little evidence to suggest that knee arthritis can be prevented or caused by exercises or activities, unless the knee was injured or was otherwise abnormal before the exercise program began. There is no evidence that once arthritis is present in a knee joint any exercises will alter its course.


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  8. However, exercise and general physical fitness have numerous other health benefits. Regular range of motion exercises and weight bearing activity are important in maintaining muscle strength and overall aerobic heart and lung capacity. Exercise will also help prevent the development of osteoporosis which can complicate later treatment. Certainly people who are physically fit are more resilient and, in general, more able to overcome the problems associated with arthritis.

    Physically fit people also tend to recover more quickly from surgery, should that eventually be necessary to treat the knee arthritis. Regardless of whether a traditional total knee replacement or a minimally-invasive partial knee replacement mini knee is performed the goals and possible benefits are the same: The large majority more than 90 percent of total knee replacement patients experience substantial or complete relief of pain once they have recovered from the procedure. Frequently the stiffness from arthritis is also relieved by the surgery.

    Very often the distance one can walk will improve as well because of diminished pain and stiffness. The enjoyment of reasonable recreational activities such as golf, dancing, traveling, and swimming almost always improves following total knee replacement. It is usually reasonable to try a number of non-operative interventions before considering knee replacement surgery of any type. Prior to surgery an orthopedic surgeon may offer medications either non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or analgesics like acetaminophen which is sold under the name Tylenol knee injections or exercises.

    A surgeon may talk to patients about activity modification weight loss or use of a cane. The decision to undergo the total knee replacement is a "quality of life" choice. Patients typically have the procedure when they find themselves avoiding activities that they used to enjoy because of knee pain. When basic activities of daily life--like walking shopping or reasonable recreational pastimes--are inhibited or prevented by the knee pain it may be reasonable to consider the surgery. Arthritis is often progressive and symptoms typically get worse over time. If a knee surgeon and a patient decide that non-operative treatments have failed to provide significant or lasting relief there are sometimes different operations to choose from.

    This is a relatively minor procedure that is usually done as an outpatient and the recovery is fairly quick in most patients. However, if X-rays demonstrate a significant amount of arthritis, knee arthroscopy may not be a good choice.

    What is a knee replacement surgery?

    Knee arthroscopy for arthritis fails to relieve pain in about half of the patients who try it. This option is suitable only if the arthritis is limited to one compartment of the knee. Osteotomy involves cutting and repositioning one of the bones around the knee joint.

    This is done to re-orient the loads that occur with normal walking and running so that these loads pass through a non-arthritic portion of the knee. It removes all motion from the knee resulting in a stiff-legged gait. Because there are so many operations that preserve motion this older procedure is seldom performed as a first-line option for patients with knee arthritis. It is sometimes used for severe infections of the knee certain tumors and patients who are too young for joint replacement but are otherwise poor candidates for osteotomy.

    Patients who are of appropriate age--certainly older than age 40 and older is better--and who have osteoarthritis limited to one compartment of the knee may be candidates for an exciting new surgical technique minimally-invasive partial knee replacement mini knee. The new surgical approach which uses a much smaller incision than traditional total knee replacement significantly decreases the amount of post-operative pain and shortens the rehabilitation period. The decision of whether this procedure is appropriate for a specific patient can only be made in consultation with a skillful orthopedic surgeon who is experienced in all techniques of knee replacement.

    Minimally-invasive partial knee replacement mini knee is not for everyone. Only certain patterns of knee arthritis are appropriately treated with this device through the smaller approach. Generally speaking patients with inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus and patients with diffuse arthritis all throughout the knee should not receive partial knee replacements. Patients who are considering knee replacements should ask their surgeon whether minimally-invasive partial knee replacement mini knee is right for them.

    Not all surgical cases are the same, this is only an example to be used for patient education. It is most suitable for middle-aged and older people who have arthritis in more than one compartment of the knee and who do not intend to return to high-impact athletics or heavy labor. In the video below, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Seth Leopold demonstrates minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and discusses the benefits to patients.

    This University of Washington program follows a patient through the whole process, from pre-op to post-op. Current evidence suggests that when total knee replacements are done well in properly selected patients success is achieved in the large majority of patients and the implant serves the patient well for many years.

    Many studies show that percent of total knee replacements are still functioning well 10 years after surgery. Most patients walk without a cane, most can do stairs and arise from chairs normally, and most resume their desired level of recreational activity. In the event that a total knee replacement requires re-operation sometime in the future, it almost always can be revised re-done successfully.

    However, results of revision knee replacement are typically not as good as first-time knee replacements. There is good evidence that the experience of the surgeon correlates with outcome in total knee replacement surgery. It is therefore important that the surgeon performing the technique be not just a good orthopedic surgeon, but a specialist in knee replacement surgery.

    Total knee replacement is elective surgery. With few exceptions it does not need to be done urgently and can be scheduled around important life-events. Like any major surgical procedure total knee replacement is associated with certain medical risks. Although major complications are uncommon they may occur. Possible complications include blood clots, bleeding, and anesthesia-related or medical risks such as cardiac risks, stroke, and in rare instances, large studies have calculated the risk to be less than 1 in death.

    Risks specific to knee replacement include infection which may result in the need for more surgery , nerve injury, the possibility that the knee may become either too stiff or too unstable to enjoy it, a chance that pain might persist or new pains might arise , and the chance that the joint replacement might not last the patient's lifetime or might require further surgery.

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    Knee Replacement Surgery Procedure

    However, while the list of complications is long and intimidating, the overall frequency of major complications following total knee replacement is low, usually less than 5 percent one in Obviously the overall risk of surgery is dependent both on the complexity of the knee problem but also on the patient's overall medical health. Many of the major problems that can occur following a total knee replacement can be treated.

    The best treatment though is prevention. An orthopedic surgeon will use antibiotics before, during, and after surgery to minimize the likelihood of infection. Your physician will take steps to decrease the likelihood of blood clots with early patient mobilization and use of blood-thinning medications in some patients. Good surgical technique can help minimize the knee-specific risks. So, choosing a fellowship-trained and experienced knee replacement surgeon is important. Again the overall likelihood of a severe complication is typically less than 5 percent when such steps are taken.

    Patients undergoing total knee replacement surgery usually will undergo a pre-operative surgical risk assessment. When necessary, further evaluation will be performed by an internal medicine physician who specializes in pre-operative evaluation and risk-factor modification.

    Some patients will also be evaluated by an anesthesiologist in advance of the surgery. Routine blood tests are performed on all pre-operative patients. Chest X-rays and electrocardiograms are obtained in patients who meet certain age and health criteria as well. Surgeons will often spend time with the patient in advance of the surgery, making certain that all the patient's questions and concerns, as well as those of the family, are answered.

    The total knee requires an experienced orthopedic surgeon and the resources of a large medical center. Some patients have complex medical needs and around surgery often require immediate access to multiple medical and surgical specialties and in-house medical, physical therapy, and social support services.

    Knee replacement surgery: What you need to know

    There is good evidence that the experience of the surgeon performing partial knee replacement affects the outcome. It is important that the surgeon be an experienced--and preferably fellowship-trained--knee replacement surgeon. A large hospital usually with academic affiliation and equipped with state-of-the-art radiologic imaging equipment and medical intensive care unit is clearly preferable in the care of patients with knee arthritis.

    Total knee replacement surgery begins by performing a sterile preparation of the skin over the knee to prevent infection. This is followed by inflation of a tourniquet to prevent blood loss during the operation. Next, specialized alignment rods and cutting jigs are used to remove enough bone from the end of the femur thigh bone , the top of the tibia shin bone , and the underside of the patella kneecap to allow placement of the joint replacement implants.

    Proper sizing and alignment of the implants, as well as balancing of the knee ligaments, all are critical for normal post-operative function and good pain relief. Again, these steps are complex and considerable experience in total knee replacement is required in order to make sure they are done reliably, case after case.

    Provisional trial implant components are placed without bone cement to make sure they fit well against the bones and are well aligned. At this time, good function--including full flexion bend , extension straightening , and ligament balance--is verified. Finally, the bone is cleaned using saline solution and the joint replacement components are cemented into place using polymethylmethacrylate bone cement. The surgical incision is closed using stitches and staples.

    Total knee replacement may be performed under epidural, spinal, or general anesthesia. We usually prefer epidural anesthesia since a good epidural can provide up to 48 hours of post-operative pain relief and allow faster more comfortable progress in physical therapy. No two knee replacements are alike and there is some variability in operative times. A typical total knee replacement takes about 80 minutes to perform. Whenever possible we use an epidural catheter a very thin flexible tube placed into the lower back at the time of surgery to manage post-operative discomfort.

    This device is similar to the one that is used to help women deliver babies more comfortably. As long as the epidural is providing good pain control we leave it in place for two days after surgery. After the epidural is removed pain pills usually provide satisfactory pain control. Patients with a good epidural can expect to walk with crutches or a walker and to take the knee through a near-full range of motion starting on the day after surgery.

    Following discharge from the hospital most patients will take oral pain medications--usually Percocet Vicoden or Tylenol for one to three weeks after the procedure mainly to help with physical therapy and home exercises for the knee. Aggressive rehabilitation is desirable following this procedure and a high level of patient motivation is important in order to get the best possible result. Oral pain medications help this process in the weeks following the surgery. Most patients take some narcotic pain medication for between 2 and 6 weeks after surgery.

    Patients should not drive while taking these kinds of medications. While any surgical procedure is associated with post-operative discomfort most patients who have had the total knee replacements say that the pain is very manageable with the pain medications and the large majority look back on the experience and find that the pain relief given by knee replacement is well worth the discomfort that follows this kind of surgery.

    Knee Replacement Surgery

    Enter the last name, specialty or keyword for your search below. Knee replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to resurface a knee damaged by arthritis. Metal and plastic parts are used to cap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint, along with the kneecap. This surgery may be considered for someone who has severe arthritis or a severe knee injury. Various types of arthritis may affect the knee joint. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults, may cause the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the knees.

    Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation of the synovial membrane and results in excessive synovial fluid, can lead to pain and stiffness. Traumatic arthritis, arthritis due to injury, may cause damage to the cartilage of the knee. The goal of knee replacement surgery is to resurface the parts of the knee joint that have been damaged and to relieve knee pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments.

    Click Image to Enlarge. Most joints are mobile, allowing the bones to move. Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Tendons are tough cords of connective tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments of the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia shin bone.

    A type of tissue that covers the surface of a bone at a joint. Cartilage helps reduce the friction of movement within a joint. A tissue that lines the joint and seals it into a joint capsule. The synovial membrane secretes synovial fluid a clear, sticky fluid around the joint to lubricate it. A type of tough, elastic connective tissue that surrounds the joint to give support and limits the joint's movement.

    A type of tough connective tissue that connects muscles to bones and helps to control movement of the joint. A curved part of cartilage in the knees and other joints that acts as a shock absorber, increases contact area, and deepens the knee joint. Knee replacement surgery is a treatment for pain and disability in the knee. The most common condition that results in the need for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis.

    Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Damage to the cartilage and bones limits movement and may cause pain. People with severe degenerative joint disease may be unable to do normal activities that involve bending at the knee, such as walking or climbing stairs, because they are painful. The knee may swell or "give-way" because the joint is not stable.

    Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis that results from a knee injury, may also lead to degeneration of the knee joint. If medical treatments are not satisfactory, knee replacement surgery may be an effective treatment. Some medical treatments for degenerative joint disease may include, but are not limited to, the following:.

    Viscosupplementation injections to add lubrication into the joint to make joint movement less painful. Your thoughts matter to us.

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    Join our community today. One to two times per month, Virtual Advisors receive a link to short, interactive surveys. All responses are confidential. As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:. The replacement knee joint may become loose, be dislodged, or may not work the way it was intended. The joint may have to be replaced again in the future. Nerves or blood vessels in the area of surgery may be injured, resulting in weakness or numbness. The joint pain may not be relieved by surgery.

    There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear. In addition to a complete medical history, your doctor may perform a complete physical examination to ensure you are in good health before undergoing the procedure. You may undergo blood tests or other diagnostic tests. It may be necessary for you to stop these medications prior to the procedure.

    Arrange for someone to help around the house for a week or two after you are discharged from the hospital. During your class, we'll review important aspects of your care and what to expect before and after surgery.