Understanding Total Knee Replacement


Of all the orthopedic surgeries available to patients, perhaps one of the most common is total knee replacement surgery. While this surgery has historically been reserved for older patients—typically mid-60s and on—newer technology is opening the door for younger patients to reclaim an active lifestyle following a knee replacement.

According to Dr. William Tucker Jr., an orthopedic surgeon at Methodist Hospital for Surgery (MHFS), the most common reason for a patient to undergo total knee replacement is arthritis, although the reason for the arthritis can vary. While arthritis is typically the result of cumulative wear and tear or medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, some arthritis is brought on by previous sporting injuries.

For Dr. Tucker, the average age of one of his patients undergoing total knee replacement is approximately 63, although this age has decreased over time because the implants within the knee are more durable and the results much more predictable. Previously, patients would be advised to “tough it out” for many years before having their knee replaced. Nowadays, Dr. Tucker says he recommends patients undergo surgery as soon as their symptoms start to interfere with their quality of life or desire to remain active.

Newer techniques, such as minimally-invasive knee replacements, partial knee replacements and implant design have changed the way many orthopedic surgeons look at joint replacement. The newer knee implants are expected to last more than 20 years and give patients a better range of motion, so it’s easier for them to bend their knee, making the prosthesis feel more like a natural knee. This technology helps younger patients decide to go forward with total knee replacement surgery because they can better be assured that their quality of life will improve if they are no longer in constant pain and discomfort.

According to Dr. Tucker, total knee replacement is one of the most successful surgeries in all of orthopedics. Most patients are able to return to virtually all of their normal activities. The primary goal of the surgery is to relieve pain while also improving mobility and range of motion. Following surgery, patients can typically return to walking, playing golf, traveling, gardening and even lower impact sports such as doubles tennis or snow skiing, if they are comfortable doing so.

For Dr. Tucker, who is been in practice for 19 years, MHFS is set apart from other hospitals because it offers patients a facility which specializes in the care of surgical patients with a streamlined model that decreases wait times, minimizes the amount of time patients need to spend in the hospital after surgery, lowers the risk of infection and other complications, all while providing an unsurpassed patient experience.

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