If you're having a knee joint replaced because of the painful effects of arthritis or osteoporosis, you are likely focused on the relief it will give you. While you will experience a significant reduction in pain when you walk, there are some other changes that you should expect. The changes aren't a bad result of the surgery, but they might surprise you if you're not prepared. Here are some of interesting benefits of your knee replacement surgery.
You'll Be Taller
You won't become a giant overnight from the surgery, but you could gain an inch or two on the side of the body where you had the surgery. Both arthritis and osteoporosis affect the bones in the knee by wearing down the cartilage at the ends of the long bones. The bone on one side of the knee joint is often affected more than the other. This causes the knee to collapse toward the side most affected. You'll end up with the knee joint bowed inward or outward, depending on the side most worn down.
The change in your knee alignment causes you to lose a little height. This is most noticeable when both knees are equally worn down and they both bow in or out. The artificial knee joint components realign the joint to its natural position and you'll gain back the height that you lost from the damaged knee. You may not notice this until you're dealing with items that used to be at eye level. For example, items on a kitchen cabinet shelf may appear at a different height than before.
Your Leg Will Be Straighter
While this is an obvious benefit of the surgery, it poses some interesting challenges. As described above, the artificial knee joint components realign your knee to an anatomically natural position. If both knees were originally affected, which is common with arthritis and osteoporosis, you'll have one leg bowed and the other straightened after the surgery. This will affect your gait as you get used to two different knee joint configurations.
As the bone disease progressed, you developed a gait that accommodated the change in the knees. After the surgery, the knees are asymmetrical, so that gait no longer works. You'll find yourself favoring the straightened leg and limping more on the other. You may use a cane or walker for several weeks until you get used to the imbalance. It will also make you eager to have the other knee joint replaced.
By themselves, these aren't reasons to have the knee surgery or avoid it. But they might be surprising effects after the surgery, if you're not prepared for them.