Health Watch: Knee replacements common, effective

By Dr. Joseph Mannino

By the time we reach age 50 and older, many of us begin to suffer knee pain from osteoarthritis, which can often be relieved with pain medicine.

However, when you begin to experience a level of knee pain that that makes walking difficult and stops you from doing the things you enjoy, it may be time to consult an orthopedic surgeon to discuss knee replacement surgery.

How long does this surgery take, and what kind of anesthesia is used?

The procedure takes slightly over an hour and is typically performed with a spinal block, which numbs the body from the waist down. The patient is also sedated to achieve a state of calm relaxation. There are certain circumstances in which a patient receives general anesthesia; however, the data show that patients undergoing knee replacement surgery with a spinal block have fewer complications and less post-operative pain.

How is pain handled following joint replacement surgery?

One of the advantages of spinal anesthesia is that it takes several hours to totally leave your system and thus provides effective pain relief immediately after surgery. This makes it easier for patients to get up and start moving shortly after their surgery, and typically, they require less pain medication.

Whether a patient has had spinal or general anesthesia, we utilize a multimodality approach to post-operative pain relief that incorporates injecting local painkiller around the knee, cold packs, narcotics, and other pain relief medications, meditation and physical therapy.


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