If you have been suffering from a nagging knee pain with your knees hurting and making a crackling sound every time you climb stairs or walk, it is quite likely that you have been recommended a knee surgery. The decision is clearly not an easy one. While surgery promises you relief from pain, the idea of someone surgically opening your knees makes it tough to convince you.
First, let us understand why are knee pains and knee surgeries becoming increasingly common. Knee is one joint in your body that does so much every single day. It bears your body weight, along with all the extra pressure every time you climb stairs or workout. Also, for every extra kilo that you pile on, your knees bear the brunt. And with age, the symptoms worsen. However, knee issues are not limited to the elderly anymore.
According to Delhi-based Dr Rajeev K Sharma – Chairman, Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement at Vimhans Nayati Super Speciality Hospital, “The multiple risk factors predisposing young adults to arthritis are obesity, sports injury, and genetic. Youth playing routine sports are more inclined to sustain joint injuries leading to instability as well as joint wear and tear.” Dr Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital, Dwarka adds, “There is also a global vitamin D3 deficiency and nutritional factors also make up for knee issues.”
A lot of it is also age related. Osteoarthritis is majorly an age-related degenerative disease, which happens when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones deteriorates over time. Apart from elderly people suffering with this problem, patients with faulty lifestyles like incorrect posture at workplace, obesity, and inflammatory arthritis also complaining of knee issues.
Still, deciding on a knee replacement surgery isn’t easy, more so because people don’t know when the doctor is plainly selling it for extra money or for genuine reasons. Dr Sharma explains, “A patient who typically complains of acute pain in the knee, which aggravates while walking on the stairs or any activity that involves bending of the knees leading to a limping gait affecting or completely restricting the movement of the patient should consider getting a knee replacement surgery.”
Even those who are detected with tenderness in the knee (especially over cartilage), pain while bending and straightening the knee, deformities (like fixed, flexed, crooked knee), antalgic gait with lateral /medial thrust, X-ray showing decreased joint space or bony growth fall in the same category.
How to protect your knees
A nutritious diet rich in minerals like calcium and vitamin D, collagen supplements, omega 3 fatty acids that help cushion the bones from wear and tear is essential for healthy knees; so is weight control. Also, people suffering from knee pain should avoid sitting on the floor or using the stairs, to avoid further damage to the cartilage.
Regular strengthening exercise and wearing suitable knee protective gear for sports and other activities that might cause damage to the knees is essential for those starting to feel slight discomfort in the knee.
The fear of surgery
According to experts in the field, the knee replacement surgery has come of age, in today’s world, with highly efficient and advanced knee implants, capable of lasting more than 2 decades, allows patients to continue with almost all activities of daily living, this simulates the normal knee joint motion to near perfection, the surgical expertise has also drastically improved, which is a key factor in preventing implant failure.
Total knee replacement (TKR) procedures have evolved in the last 40 years, to guarantee an improvement of implants life and functionality for the patient along with cost reduction. The first attempt to build an artificial knee was in 1860 with Verneuil: he used the articular capsule to recreate the joint. After this first attempt, there were other experiments with Ollier, Murphy and Campbell; they used different materials (like muscle, fat and fascia and pig bladder respectively). Judet in 1947 was the first that tried to recreate a complete joint; modern TKR was born. Present day knee implants support movement of knee joints up to 130- 150* with the possibility of sitting on the floor and squatting, shares Dr Chaudhry.


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