Approximately five million joint replacement operations are done each year worldwide. Although most people who undergo this type of surgery are over the age of 65, but about a quarter are younger than 55. Damage to the knee joint can result from various reasons but the most common cause is Arthritis.
Surgery to replace all or part of a damaged knee joint can have a dramatic effect on the lifestyle of someone suffering from severe pain and disability, but it is a major operation which should not be undertaken lightly. Your consultant will advise you about the likely benefits of surgery, but the final decision to go ahead is yours, and before making it you should be sure that your expectations about its outcome are realistic and that you understand what is involved. It is hoped that this article will provide enough information to help you make an informed decision.
THE KNEE JOINT:
The knee joint comprises of a long thigh bone articulated with the upper end of shin bone along with a disc like knee cap. These bones are kept together by strong ligaments and muscles for normal functioning of the knee joint as it is the joint which bears the weight of the body. The ends participating in joint are covered with cartilage so that the surfaces of the bones should not rub with each other.
The joint cavity is lined by a membrane called the synovium, which secrete an oily synovial fluid the articulating surfaces of the joint and allow smooth movement of the thigh bone with shin bone and knee cap.
Causes of the damage to Knee Joint:
There are several diseases which can damage the knee joint as well as other joints of the body also. These diseases cause damage to the surfaces of the bones taking part in the joint formation resulting in severe pain disability.
Osteoarthritis is most common cause for destruction of the most of the joints of the body including knee joint. As the age progresses the cartilages over the ends of bones gets distracted and degenerated due to the friction caused by the use of the joints. Once the cartilage is lost the surface of the bones beneath gets exposed. Due to the continuous rubbing and friction while walking the surface of the bone gets worsened and the individual cannot take even a single step without pain. Osteophytes formed at the margins of the joint restrict the movements of the joint. Due to severe pain and destruction of the joint one may start limping while walking and that will add problem to the spine.
For management of osteoarthritis one may use canes for support while walking, physiotherapy, and taking pain killer tablets or intraarticular injections.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of connective tissues which involves inflammation of several joints. It starts in early age and can affect both men and women, more often women. The affected joints become swollen and tender. The bones become demineralised and muscles weak and atrophied.
The causes of all types of osteoarthritis are not always known. Some people suffer from haemophilia which is a bleeding disorder in which repeated bleeding into the joint results in swelling and inflammation, with subsequent destruction of the articular cartilage. Infection to the joint, accidental injury, gout, death of the tissue of the bone due alcoholism, long term use of steroids or pain killers is some of the known causes.