Cutting edge knee replacement surgery offers new hope at the age of 80

It felt awful. It was unbearable.

The knee paintook away her freedom to walk and live life to the fullest.

By the time 91-year-old Neetu Sharma decided to undergo knee replacement after a decade of suffering from arthritis, even a short and essential walk to the restroom became a struggle.

Like Neetu, most patients suffering from joint ache give up hope and accept the pain as unalterable part of their lives.

But, that’s not true.

Today, patients suffering from knee pain have the choice to walk pain free. Thanks to the new, cutting-edge joint replacement treatment and surgery, saying goodbye to joint pain is possible nowadays.

Surgeons across the globe have been performing knee replacements for over three decades now and seen as ‘highly successful’. “Knee replacement is a surgical procedure that decreases pain and improves the quality of life for many patients with severe knee arthritis,” Dr. S.K.S. Marya, Vice Chairman on the Max Healthcare Board of Directors & Chairman – Orthopadics,

With latest technology, new implants, excellent rehabilitation programmes and detailed research, knee transplants are changing lives today. “We use zero error techniques nowadays. The patient can even stand the same day of the surgery. The case of 91-year-old Neetu is the perfect example of how successful knee replacement surgeries have become today. It’s undoubtedly the safest option,” says Dr. Ramneek Mahajan, Director Orthopedic and Replacement, Saket City Hospital.

New breakthrough methods like ‘minimally-invasive quadriceps-sparing total knee replacement’ promise less pain, minimum blood loss and faster recovery. The hospital stay in now for only one or two days“It is a new surgical technique that allows surgeons to insert the same time-tested reliable knee implants through a shorter incision and less trauma to the quadriceps muscle which is the most important muscle group around the knee. The incision is 3-4 inches in length and recovery time is less- permitting patients to walk with a cane within a couple of weeks or earlier,” explainsDr Marya.

While Neetu was confident about knee replacements, there are many who still have sceptical outlook towards it. The most common of all is that the knee doesn’t bend after surgery. “Research has also shown that post-operative knee flexion (bend) is related to pre-operative flexion. So, if a patient has 110 degrees of flexion prior to surgery, he/she is likely to get at least this much if surgery is performed by an experienced surgeon. Many patients do seem to get more flexion than what they had before,” says Dr Marya.

Then there are myths such as – old people can’t get it done and it is not possible to play a sport after knee replacement. “Age is no criteria to knee replacement. Neetu is a perfect example of this. It’s all about personal choice – you want to live with pain or without it,” says Dr. Ramneek Mahajan, Director Orthopedic and Replacement, Saket City Hospital., “I operated on a 31-year-old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. She got knee replacement a few years back and today, she walks, runs and cycles. She lives an active life.”

Rehabilitation plays a crucial role. “Physical therapy exercises focus on building strength and regaining flexibility. Techniques such as massage and application of cold to minimize swelling is useful. In addition, every patient receives a regimen of exercises to perform at home. With rehabilitation, recovery from a knee replacement is usually 80% complete within four weeks,” informs Dr. S.K.S. Marya, Vice Chairman on the Max Healthcare Board of Directors & Chairman – Orthopadics,

Developing balance, flexibility and strength will take some time, so one needs to take precautions. To prevent falls, patients need to use special support hose, inflatable leg coverings (compression boots), and blood thinners for preventing blood clots. “To prevent pneumonia, it is important to take frequent deep breaths and use breathing apparatus called a spirometer to encourage taking deep breaths,” says Dr Marya, “Patients with certain risk factors may need to take antibiotics prior to dental work, including dental cleanings, or before any surgical procedure that could allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream causing blood borne infection of the knee.”

According to Dr. Suneel Kumar, Sr. Consultant, Orthopaedics at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi, “There is no doubt that Total knee replacement improves the quality of life. After the surgery of knee replacement, the pain decreases and patients mobility will increases. It is a myth that at the age of 80 yr, the patient should not undergo surgery. Some precautions to be taken after knee replacement are that patients should not sit cross legged or squat. Recent advances in the field are newer designs of implants which allows better range of movements. Patient specific implants are also available

Neetu hasn’t stopped walking since the surgery last June. When people tell me to slow down, I tell them I have a lot to catch up, says she.  “I stopped enjoying life due to severe knee pain. But today, I feel like I am 10-15 years younger than I am,” says she.

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