Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Assessing the Risks

Learn about the risks of knee-replacement surgery before deciding if it's right for you

Any operation, no matter how minor, comes with risk. Knee-replacement surgery has its own catalogue of problems that can arise. These include:

Blood Clots

A clot in the leg is a minor problem, but if it travels to the heart or lungs, it can be life threatening. For this reason, blood-thinning medication, compression of the calf with surgical stockings, and special leg exercises are normal post-op therapies.

Infection

The consequences of infection after joint-replacement surgery can be very serious. In some cases, the prosthesis has to be removed in order to treat it. For this reason, special attention is given to keeping bacteria from entering the open wound, starting with precautions in the operating rooms. Antibiotics are routinely administered for a 24-hour period to all patients undergoing replacement surgery. Joint-replacement patients need to be vigilant about getting treatment for any infection anywhere in their bodies for the rest of their lives. In addition, they will need to take antibiotics before and after any dental work.

Loosening

One of the major long-term problems with artificial joints is separation of the area where the metal or cement meets the bone. When this happens, a revision (surgical repair of the damage) may be necessary. How long the bond lasts depends on how well the surgery was done in the first place (choose an experienced surgeon), how hard your bones are (osteoporosis can be a negative factor), how active you are (running and heavy lifting need to be avoided), and your weight (every extra pound adds three pounds of force to the knee).

Loss of Motion

In some cases, the knee is not able to bend normally after a knee replacement. For a person to do things like rise from a chair, the knee must be able to bend at least 90 degrees. Most post-op physical therapies aim for 115 to 120 degrees, but if the knee didn't bend at least 90 degrees before surgery, it's unlikely it will do so after. Consequently, patients might have difficulty doing some simple activities like kneeling, bending, and the like.

Nerve Damage

Skin around the knee will initially feel numb because small skin nerves were cut during surgery. This is a common occurrence, and sensation usually returns to some degree within a few months.

Osteolysis

This term means "breakdown of bone," a process that may happen over the years as tiny particles of worn-out plastic from the insert cause some of the body's own cells to damage the bone around the prosthesis. If left untreated, it could lead to the need for revision. Annual x-ray follow-ups are highly recommended to detect any osteolysis in time for treatment.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do