Knee replacement surgery (also known as knee arthroplasty) can be a wonderful procedure for individuals with severe pain and discomfort in their knees. Still, those who opt for this major surgery want to know that their new knee joints are going to last.
Do Knee Replacements Last?
Knee replacements won’t last forever. That’s because their parts are made from plastic and metal materials, which eventually break down over time. At the same time, the science involved in knee replacements has made great strides in recent years. And thanks to new techniques and technologies, knee replacements now last far longer than they used to.
In general, most knee replacement patients can expect their new knees to last for at least 10 years. That is, a recent batch of studies found that approximately 90-percent of modern knee replacements retain a positive outcome after 10 or 15 years. Some doctors say the duration is more like 15-to-20 years, however, and these numbers seem to only be increasing.
In the end, exactly how long knee replacements do last involves multiple factors, including:
Knee Replacements Lasting and Patient Age
Age appears to have an effect on joint replacement outcomes overall. In general, the older a patient is, the higher the likelihood they’ll have a potential issue with their knee replacement. Additionally, older ages tend to correlate positively with the need for more in-home nursing care following surgery.
Weight Factors for Knee Replacements
Those who are overweight or obese may have a harder time during their recovery from knee surgery. Additionally, knee replacement outcomes for these individuals tend to be worse.
That’s because excess weight can compromise the joint and make it more difficult to heal properly and maintain strength. Fortunately, healthy weight loss before or after surgery can mitigate these outcomes and will naturally provide other health benefits as well.
How Long Knee Replacements Last Depends on Patient Health
Recent data may indicate that certain illnesses and health conditions are associated with a poor outcome after knee replacement surgery. These conditions include liver disease, diabetes, overall malnutrition, and low vitamin D levels.
The good news is that patients can increase their likelihood of success after knee replacement surgery and the longevity of their replacement by taking better care of their health. This means eating a nutritious diet full of lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
Regular exercise is also encouraged, including both cardio activity and strength training. In fact, strength training can especially help keep a new knee replacement intact over time because reinforcing the muscles surrounding your joints will keep them healthy and strong.
Lastly, don’t forget about mental health. Surprising as it may seem, some mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are positively correlated with a poor outcome after knee replacement surgery.
Type of Knee Replacement and Surgical Techniques
How long do knee replacements last for types of surgery? There are two main types of knee replacements: partial knee replacements and total knee replacements. The latter tends to be performed more frequently, but both are relatively common.
Within these two categories, there are also several routes your surgeon may take, depending on the condition of your knee and what’s been causing issues for you. The specifics of your surgery will naturally dictate the longevity of the replacement and the level of improvement of mobility after surgery.
How Well Are Your Knee Joints Cared for?
After knee replacement surgery, it is imperative that patients care attentively for their knees (and bodies overall). Primarily, this means following the postoperative instructions provided by the attending surgeon.
Patients must follow a rehabilitation plan to maintain mobility in their knees and ensure a good range of motion after complete healing. Some patients will enter a rehab facility and stay there for several nights directly after surgery. Others will need to follow a rehab protocol at home and may have a physical therapist visit them periodically to check on progress and prescribe exercises.
Exercises may range from ankle pumps and leg lifts to short-arc quads and straight leg raises. Walking should slowly be incorporated into your routine over time as well.
In addition to rehab exercises, patients should consume a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Sleep is also important and to be prioritized in order to ensure proper healing.
Recovering from a Knee Replacement
Recovery from a knee replacement takes time. You’ll need to rest almost completely for at least the first few days. A certain amount of pain, discomfort, and swelling may linger for several weeks as well. These symptoms should get progressively better each day. Be sure you have adequate help at home and have set up a cozy recovery area beforehand, complete with everything you’ll need to recover properly and avoid unnecessary movement.
It will take time to feel like yourself again after a knee replacement. Most patients need to take at least one or two months off from work or school. Still, most people who have a total knee replacement are able to return to their normal activities within three to six weeks. After that, your surgeon will tell you when you can return to regular physical activity and/or what activities you’ll need to avoid.
Contact Full Circle Orthopedics Today
Full Circle Orthopedics has been serving the Bay Area for over 35 years, offering total knee replacements and total hip replacements.
Could a knee replacement improve your quality of life? We can help. Give us a call today at 727-513-7277 to schedule an appointment!