What causes knee pain problems?
Knee pain is a common problem for middle-aged and elderly Americans, and arthritis is the most common cause. If arthritis-related knee pain interferes with your quality of life, your doctor will first recommend conservative treatments such as medications and cortisone injections. Eventually, knee replacement surgery may be your best option
What is a total knee replacement?
A total knee replacement is really a cartilage replacement with an artificial surface. The knee itself is not replaced, as is commonly thought, but rather an artificial substitute for the cartilage is inserted on the end of the bones. This is done with a metal alloy on the femur and plastic spacer on the tibia and patella (kneecap). This creates a new smooth cushion and a functioning joint that does not hurt.
What are the major replacement risks?
Most surgeries go well, without any complications. Infection and blood clots are two serious complications that concern us the most. To avoid these complications, we use antibiotics and blood thinners. We also take special precautions in the operating room to reduce risk of infections. The chances of this happening in your lifetime are one percent or less.
Will the replacement surgery be painful?
You will have discomfort following the surgery, but we will keep you comfortable with appropriate medication. Some patients control their own medicine with a special pump (PCA) that delivers the drug directly into their IV. Generally, most patients transition to oral medication by the morning after surgery.
What are the results of total knee replacement?
90 to 95 percent of patients achieve good to excellent results with relief of discomfort and significantly increased activity and mobility.
How long am I incapacitated?
You will probably stay in bed the day of your surgery. However, the next morning you will get up, sit in a chair or recliner and should be walking with a walker or crutches later that day.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most knee patients will be hospitalized for three days after their surgery. There are several goals that you must achieve before you can be discharged.
Will I need a second opinion prior to the knee replacement surgery?
The office surgery coordinator will contact your insurance company to pre-authorize your surgery. If you would like to get a second opinion at any time you may initiate that process.
Will I need help at home?
Yes. The first several days or weeks, depending on your progress, you will need someone to assist you with meal preparation, etc. Family members or friends need to be available to help if possible. Preparing ahead of time, before your surgery, can minimize the amount of help required. Having the laundry done, house cleaned, yard work completed, clean linens put on the bed and single portion frozen meals can reduce the need for extra help.
When will I be able to get back to work?
We recommend that most people take at least one month off from work, unless their jobs are quite sedentary and they can return to work slightly earlier. Your surgeon will decide when it is safe for you to return to work.
What physical/recreational activities may I participate in after my recovery?
You are encouraged to participate in low impact activities such as walking, dancing, golf, hiking, swimming, bowling and gardening.
What is the first step to getting toward getting a knee replacement?
Only an orthopedic surgeon can determine whether a knee replacement is an appropriate course of treatment. There are potential risks, and recovery takes time. The performance of the new joint depends on weight, activity level, age and other factors. These need to be discussed with your doctor. To find an orthopedic physician who specializes in knee replacement please use our Find a Doctor tool.
Watch a virtual knee replacement surgery.