Getting a knee arthroplasty or joint replacement is expected by a lot of people to be a solution to their mobility problems. However, it seems that there is a certain group of people that have not regained the full range of motion that they had expected after surgery. This condition is generally termed as stiffness of the replacement joints. The duration of stiffness after total knee replacement has not been extensively written about, though there are available solutions to correct the condition.
Osteoarthritis and Knee Replacement
An indication that a patient needs knee surgery is when he or she has a developing osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a combination of various conditions that result in the continuous degradation of the joints. The joints are protected by a material called the cartilage, the same material the visible part of the ear is made of. A series of forces contribute to its thinning out, causing the joints to become closer and will eventually cause pain whenever in contact.
This is especially true to the knees, since they have to stand the weight of the entire upper body and the legs. Running, walking, or even standing becomes very difficult to a person with osteoarthritis. If therapy and medication cannot help anymore, the joints are replaced by artificial mechanisms that mimic the function of the knee.
Why Does the Stiffness Happen?
There are several factors that could lead to the stiffness. One is the actual built quality of the artificial replacements. Though the replacements have been rigorously tested prior to shipping in various medical facilities, there is still a big chance that a small portion may not have passed quality control measures.
Another culprit may be the lack of rehabilitation after the surgery. Usually, patients are asked to complete a series of physical exercises to retrain simple tasks such as standing up or bending the knees. At first, they are simply asked to do these exercises while in bed or sitting. Next, a physical therapist and railings or crutches provide assistance until complete motion is revived. If there is serious negligence on the side of a therapist or the lack of cooperation from the patient, stiffness of the knee will eventually occur.
How Long Does the Stiffness Last?
According to a recent study, it was found out that among people who have experienced knee surgery, only 1 percent have felt stiffness in their replacements. Most of them have also reported the issue earlier to their surgeons and they have performed certain corrections. Duration of stiffness after total knee replacement can last as long as the rehabilitation process of the patients. This can mean as long as three months or more, but most patients get full function of the knees by then.
One way to shorten the duration of stiffness after total knee replacement is to massage the knees or have them moved by an expert while the patient is under anesthesia to remove the pain. This is usually part of the rehabilitation process already and ensures that the replacement is working perfectly.
If the stiffness can be discovered early on, surgery can be performed again to adjust the calibration of the joints or have them replaced altogether. According to the same study above, corrective surgery resulted to around 90 percent of patients getting back full motion of the knees.
A strict doctor ordered rehabilitation always follows knee replacement surgery. Unfortunately, this rehab is only enough to give you some mobility and get back part of your life. They don't expect people with knee replacements to have the full abilities like they once did, so they don't even try. With the right exercise and routines, though, you can have that life back, despite what the doctors tell you. Take the time to learn about rehabilitation from knee replacement surgery, and how you can ease your fear of living a sedentary life by taking action.