Living Well: Knees Hurt? Maybe it’s time for knee replacement surgery

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Want to learn more about knee surgery? Attend the TMH joint clinic

What: Come for a complimentary dinner and learn about the latest advancements in knee replacement surgery from orthopedic surgeons Dr. Michael Sisk and Dr. Andreas Sauerbrey.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2

Where: The Haven, 300 S. Shelton Lane, Hayden

Life can be challenging, but with a painful, stiff knee that makes it even harder to get out of bed in the morning, it’s doubly so. Osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis, affects millions of people throughout the world. When the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down, they rub together and cause pain. A common place to have osteoarthritis is in the knee joint.

If you, or someone you know, has osteoarthritis in the knee and has tried everything from medications and injections to physical therapy and braces, it’s time to consider total knee replacement therapy — also called total knee arthroplasty.

“When someone has exhausted all the normal, conservative options to relieve pain and regain movement in the knee, it’s time to replace the knee,” said Dr. Michael Sisk, an orthopedic surgeon with The Memorial Hospital.

If the thought of knee surgery makes you cringe because you’ve heard horror stories of hours under the knife and long recoveries, it’s time to take a second look. Today’s knee replacement surgeries are much improved from the past, thanks to new advancements and technologies.

“Traditionally, a knee replacement demanded a big incision and a couple hours under anesthesia. Today, surgery typically takes 30 minutes and requires a smaller incision,” Sisk said.

“We offer a cutting edge, patient-specific technique for placing and fitting a customized prosthetic implant made specifically for each patient. Recovery is twice as fast now than before. With such pinpoint accuracy, the surgery is less invasive to the bone and the body, and time under anesthesia is shortened,” added Dr. Andreas Sauerbrey, an orthopedic surgeon with The Memorial Hospital.

Not every hospital has this state-of-the-art technology like TMH doea: “We are on the forefront of these surgeries,” Sauerbrey said.

In the past, surgeons had just a few standard prosthetic implants to choose from. Whether you were a 110-pound woman or a 240-pound man, you got the same one. What’s great about patient-specific arthroplasty is that surgeons have dozens of sizes to choose from, and if one doesn’t fit, they can design and order a custom one.

“Custom implants literally have the patient’s name etched on the side,” Sauerbrey said.

Not only is the implant sized just right, advanced technologies allow surgeons to place it precisely on the bone. Surgeons use three-dimensional imagery (often from an MRI, magnetic resonance imaging) to create personalized positioning guides for each patient.

“It makes the fit of the prosthetic much more accurate, and a good fit means more comfort down the road. Our outcomes are great. Patient-specific surgery means less rubbing and pain than traditional knee surgery,” Sauerbrey said.

Recovery from knee surgery includes medications, rest and physical therapy. On average, full recovery is experienced within two months. Most patients who undergo knee joint replacement experience dramatic improvements. That’s because the joint is relieved by the new gliding surface of the implant.

“It’s such a pleasure to see patients return to what they are passionate about, whether it’s hunting, skiing, hockey or another activity. The most common remark that I hear from patients is that they are disappointed they waited so long to have the surgery,” Sisk said.

In the past, joint surgeries were reserved for those 65 years of age or older. Today, people in their 50s are good candidates since the implant has been shown to last 20 years or more. TMH soon will offer patient-specific technology for hip and shoulder joint surgeries, as well.

Talk to your doctor to decide if knee replacement surgery is for you, or contact the joint coordinator with the hospital’s surgical care team if you have general questions about joint surgeries at TMH.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig — improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

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