Osteoarthritis in the knee is one reason some people opt for knee replacement… (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)
Knee replacements last -- and last and last. We now know this thanks to a study presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting. But that doesn't mean the prospect of such an operation isn't scary.
More than half a million Americans have knee replacement surgery each year. And it's the pain, either from arthritis, an injury or other cause, that spurs many to seek out surgery. This knee replacement tutorial from MedlinePlus can help dial back the fear factor. It illustrates in basic terms how surgeons cut the femur and tibia to remove a damaged joint and replace it with an artificial one. Looks easy enough -- online.
RELATED: Knee replacements hold up well after 20 years
After surgery, walking and bending your knee starts right away. These post-op exercises help to strengthen muscles around the knee and increase mobility.
What happens after that? The orthopedic surgeons group offers these "realistic expectations":
"More than 90 percent of individuals who undergo total knee replacement experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities of daily living. But total knee replacement will not make you a super-athlete or allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis. Following surgery, you will be advised to avoid some types of activity, including jogging and high-impact sports, for the rest of your life."
But some doctors are a bit more encouraging when it comes to returning to working out and sports. Here are some one-hour videos that shed some light on what to expect during and after surgery: "Knee pain and the weekend warriors" and "Arthritic pain relief through partial knee replacement (Warning: This one is pretty graphic.)
And don't forget: Once the surgery is done, that new joint will last for quite a while.