incision (4- to 6-inch incision compared with an 8- to 10-inch incision). With the smaller incision come the potential benefits of a shorter hospital stay, shorter recovery, and a better looking scar.
Although there is no question that an artificial knee can be implanted through a smaller incision, doctors still don't know whether it can be done as well as with the traditional approach.
New techniques for opening the knee may be more important than the length of the incision. Some techniques are "quadriceps-sparing" because they protect the quadriceps tendon and muscle in the front of the thigh. Other techniques called "mid-vastus" and "sub-vastus" make small incisions in the muscle but are also less invasive.
Knee arthritis leads to pain, which often happens with activity. The knee can also hurt at rest. Patients often find it difficult to climb or go down stairs, walk distances, or get up from low seats. Patients may also have swelling about the knee, stiffness, or a feeling of looseness.
The first steps in treating knee arthritis are activity modification, regular exercise, and weight loss. The muscles around the knee protect it during activity. With every step, forces equal to several times a person's body weight are transmitted through the knee. Therefore, improved strength and decreased body weight can prolong the life of the knee.
Soft knee braces and shoe modifications can sometimes help. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are also recommended. Some dietary supplements might also help. A cane or walker can also be tried to assist with walking and to improve mobility.
Steroid injections directly into the knee can be used to decrease inflammation. A lubricant may be used to improve the function of the knee. These can offer some relief. They can be repeated from time to time if they help.
Knee replacement is recommended for knee arthritis if nonsurgical treatments have failed and the pain is limiting lifestyle and activities. Surgical options include knee arthroscopy (although this is rarely used just for arthritis), partial knee replacement, and total knee replacement.
The goal of knee replacement is to provide a pain-free knee that allows relatively normal activities and lasts for a long time. To achieve these goals, it is important that the knee implants be inserted with proper positioning. The bones and ligaments are prepared very carefully to allow the knee to be functional and durable. Using the current techniques, 90% to 95% of knee replacements last 15 years or longer.
Advantages of Minimally Invasive Joint Replacement are :
- Less tissue trauma – muscles and tendons are avoided or separated, not cut
- Faster and less painful rehabilitation
- Smaller incisions and less scarring – two incisions of 1½ to 2 inches each, rather than one 10- to 12-inch incision
- Shorter hospital stay – 1-2 days (vs. 3-5 days); some patients go home in less than 24 hours
- Reduced blood loss and less need for pre-surgery blood donation
- Faster return to work and daily activities
Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement Incisions
After surgery you will receive pain medication and begin physical therapy. It is important to start moving your new knee as soon as possible after surgery to promote blood flow, to regain knee motion, and to facilitate the recovery process. You should be out of bed and walking with crutches or a walker within 24 hours of your surgery.
You will be shown how to safely climb and descend stairs, how to get into and out of a seated position, and how to care for your knee once you return home. It is a good idea to enlist the help of friends or family to help you once you do return home.
Before you leave the hospital, your therapist will show you a variety of exercises designed to help you regain mobility and strength in your knee. You should be able to perform these exercises on your own at home. When at home, it is very important to continue with your exercises as instructed.
Recovery After Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement
Recovery time after minimally invasive knee replacement takes approximately half as long as traditional total knee replacement recovery time. Every person’s recovery time will vary, but most people should be able to drive and garden after four weeks. You will be instructed as to when you can return to daily normal activities and will also tell you which activities to avoid.
You will typically not be allowed to participate in high-impact activities or contact sports. These types of activities place extreme pressure on the joints, which could lead to complications.
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