Before you consider knee replacement surgery, be sure to ask your orthopedic surgeon these questions.
When considering knee replacement surgery, you are free to ask your knee replacement surgeon as many questions as you need to make your decision. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with four of the most common questions knee surgeons are asked by their patients regarding knee replacement surgery.
1. What Are the Benefits of Knee Replacement Surgery?
With more than 700,000 knee replacement surgeries performed in the U.S. each year, it is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the country. Benefits of knee replacement include reduced pain, greater mobility and stability of the knee joint, greater range of motion and the ability to get back to doing what you love to do.
As with all medical procedures, a certain level of risk will always exist, but less than 2% of knee replacement surgery patients experience serious complications.
2. How Long Will Knee Surgery Recovery Take?
Recovery and rehabilitation takes approximately 12 weeks after knee replacement surgery. It will be about 8 weeks before you can start to return to normal activity levels. Almost as soon as you wake up from your surgery, you will begin standing and walking with the help of a physical therapist.
It is important that you start using your artificial knee within the first 24 hours of surgery to prevent stiffness or scar tissue buildup. By the third day, before your release from the hospital, you should be able to bend your knee to a 90-degree angle, walk at least 25 feet with a walker, and use the stairs with crutches. You may also need to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine for up to three weeks at home. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions about your care.
3. How Much Physical Therapy Will I Need After Knee Replacement Surgery?
Your physical therapist will prescribe specific exercises for you to perform during the first three weeks after surgery, including leg lifts, resistance, and walking. You will still need a walker to move around, but you will become less dependent on the walker each day. Aggressive physical therapy is important for a great outcome after your total knee replacement surgery. Be sure to do what your physical therapist tells you!
By week four, you will likely start seeing a dramatic improvement in strength and movement. Depending on which knee was operated on, and depending on when you are no longer on pain medication, you will be able to drive. Your surgeon will advise you on when it is safe for you to resume driving.
At six weeks, you should be able to perform everyday activities, while continuing physical therapy exercises. Over the second six weeks, you will work toward achieving 115 degrees of flexion movement through strength training and stationary bike therapy. As long as you complete your physical therapy as prescribed, you should be fully recovered after three months.
If you are unable to perform your daily activities, or your pain has not lessened over time, talk to your orthopedic surgeon about your treatment options.
4. What Are the Alternatives to Knee Replacement Surgery?
There are many alternatives to knee replacement surgery that can offer pain relief. Losing excess weight can significantly improve any pain felt in the knees. Losing just 15 pounds can alleviate osteoarthritis knee pain by up to 50%. Exercising or working with a physical therapist before considering surgery can strengthen your knee muscles and increase your knee’s range of motion to decrease arthritic pain.
Certain types of knee injections are also proven effective in reducing swelling and pain for some patients. For example, hyaluronic acid injections can lubricate your knee and act as a shock absorber between cartilage and bone. Steroid or cortisone shots reduce inflammation and may offer pain relief that can last several weeks or months.
If these alternatives offer no relief from your chronic knee pain, you will most likely need knee replacement surgery. Talk to your orthopedic surgeon about creating a treatment plan that’s right for you.
If you think you may need knee replacement surgery, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at 877-918-7020. Our orthopedic surgeons can help you determine the best course of treatment to relieve your pain.