Knee Replacement Surgery: Answering Your Top 20 Questions

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If you’re considering total knee replacement surgery, you likely have a myriad of questions and concerns running through your mind. This comprehensive guide aims to address the 20 most common queries. You will be with valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about your journey to reclaiming an active, pain-free lifestyle.

1. What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement is also known as total knee arthroplasty. It is a surgical procedure that involves removing the damaged or arthritic portions of the knee joint and replacing them with an artificial prosthetic implant. The prosthesis is designed to mimic the structure and function of a natural, healthy knee joint, restoring mobility and alleviating pain.

2. When is a total knee replacement recommended?

Total knee replacement surgery is typically recommended for individuals suffering from advanced osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other forms of severe knee joint damage that significantly impair mobility and quality of life. If non-surgical treatments, such as medications, physical therapy, injections, and lifestyle modifications, fail to provide adequate relief, a knee replacement may be the best option to regain function and improve your overall well-being.

3. What are the risks associated with total knee replacement surgery?

As with any major surgery, total knee replacement carries certain risks. Than could include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, and complications related to anesthesia. However, these risks are generally low, and your orthopedic surgeon will take all necessary precautions to minimize them. For example, administering antibiotics, using specialized surgical techniques, and closely monitoring your recovery.

4. How long does the surgery take?

The duration of a total knee replacement surgery typically ranges from 1 to 2 hours. However, the entire process, including preparation, administration of anesthesia, and recovery from anesthesia, may take several hours. Your surgeon will provide you with a detailed timeline and instructions for before and after the procedure.

5. What type of anesthesia is used during the surgery?

Several anesthesia options are available for total knee replacement surgery, including general anesthesia, spinal or epidural anesthesia, and regional nerve block anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will determine the most suitable option based on your medical history, individual circumstances, and the surgeon’s preference. They will also discuss the potential risks and benefits of each option with you.

6. What is the recovery time for total knee replacement surgery?

Recovery times can vary, but most patients are able to walk with the aid of a walker or crutches within 24 hours after surgery. Physical therapy is an essential component of the recovery process and typically begins the day after the procedure. With diligent adherence to your rehabilitation program, most patients can resume light activities within 6-8 weeks. Full recovery can take up to 3-6 months

7. What kind of physical therapy will be required after surgery?

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process after total knee replacement surgery. It helps regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the knee joint, as well as improve balance and functional mobility. Typically, patients attend physical therapy sessions 2-3 times per week for several weeks, followed by a home exercise program to continue their progress.

8. How long will I need to stay in the hospital after the surgery?

Most patients can expect to stay in the hospital for 1-3 days after the surgery, depending on their individual recovery progress, pain management needs, and the surgeon’s recommendation. During this time, you’ll receive care from a team of healthcare professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, and your surgeon, to ensure a smooth and safe transition to the next phase of your recovery

9. What kind of pain management will be provided post-surgery?

Pain management is an essential aspect of the recovery process, and your healthcare team will work closely with you to develop an effective plan tailored to your needs. This may include a combination of intravenous and oral pain medications, as well as non-pharmacological techniques such as icing the surgical area to help reduce swelling and discomfort. To ensure your comfort during the healing process, your pain levels will be monitored closely, and adjustments will be made as needed .

10. What are the potential complications of total knee replacement surgery?

While complications are relatively rare, potential risks include infection, blood clots, nerve damage, implant loosening or dislocation, and persistent pain or stiffness. Your surgeon will discuss these risks in detail with you and take appropriate measures to minimize them, such as administering antibiotics, prescribing blood thinners, and providing detailed instructions for post-operative care

11. Will I be able to resume normal activities after the surgery?

Yes, the primary goal of total knee replacement surgery is to restore mobility and enable you to resume most normal activities, such as walking, light exercise, and low-impact sports like golf or doubles tennis. However, high-impact activities that put excessive stress on the knee joint may not be recommended, as they could potentially damage the implant or cause premature wear

12. How long will the knee replacement last?

With proper care and maintenance, most modern knee replacements can last between 15 and 20 years or more. However, the longevity of the implant can vary depending on several factors, including age, activity level, overall health, and the quality of the implant materials. Younger, more active individuals may need to undergo revision surgery sooner than older, less active patients.

13. Will I be able to bend my knee normally after the surgery?

While some degree of stiffness or limited range of motion is expected initially, most patients regain near-normal knee bending ability within a few months after surgery. Physical therapy exercises play a crucial role in improving flexibility and range of motion, and your therapist will work with you to develop a personalized plan to maximize your recovery.

14. Will I need assistive devices like crutches or a walker after surgery?

Yes, most patients require the use of assistive devices, such as crutches, a walker, or a cane, for the first few weeks after surgery to facilitate mobility and prevent excessive strain on the new knee joint. As you progress through your rehabilitation and regain strength and stability, your need for these devices will gradually diminish.

15. Are there any dietary restrictions after surgery?

There are no specific dietary restrictions after total knee replacement surgery. However, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients can aid in the healing process and promote overall recovery. Your healthcare team may recommend incorporating foods that are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals to support tissue repair and reduce inflammation.

16. How soon can I drive after the surgery?

Most surgeons recommend avoiding driving for at least 4-6 weeks after surgery or until you can comfortably bend your knee, operate the pedals, and perform emergency maneuvers without discomfort. This timeframe may vary depending on your individual recovery progress and the specific recommendations of your surgeon.

17. When can I return to work after total knee replacement surgery?

The timeline for returning to work depends on the nature of your job and the physical demands involved. Most patients can return to sedentary jobs within 4-6 weeks, while those with more physically demanding jobs may need 3-4 months or longer to fully recover. Your surgeon will provide you with specific guidance based on your occupation and the specifics of your recovery.

18. Are there any long-term effects of having a total knee replacement?

While total knee replacements are generally successful and long-lasting, some patients may experience long-term effects such as decreased range of motion, joint stiffness, or persistent pain. Regular follow-up visits with your orthopedic surgeon can help address any ongoing issues, and additional treatments or therapies may be recommended to manage long-term complications.

19. What kind of follow-up care will I need after surgery?

Follow-up care is essential to ensure a successful recovery and monitor the condition of your new knee joint. Typically, you will have regular appointments with your orthopedic surgeon in the weeks and months following your surgery. During these visits, your surgeon will assess the healing process, evaluate your range of motion and strength, and address any concerns or complications that may arise. Periodic imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, may also be recommended to evaluate the condition of the implant and surrounding structures.

20. How can I prevent complications or problems with my knee replacement in the future?

To ensure the longevity and success of your knee replacement, it is essential to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding post-operative care, physical therapy, and activity levels. Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good joint hygiene (such as avoiding high-impact activities and protecting your knee from injuries), and attending regular follow-up appointments can help prevent future complications. Additionally, being proactive about addressing any concerns or issues promptly can help minimize the risk of more severe problems developing.

Answering Your Questions at Siegel Orthopaedics

Dr. Herrick J. Siegel, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon at Siegel Orthopaedics in Birmingham, Alabama, is dedicated to providing exceptional care. He is committed to guiding patients through every step of their total knee replacement journey. With his extensive experience and expertise, Dr. Siegel can help you achieve a pain-free, active lifestyle. His passion for advancing orthopaedic medicine and exploring innovative approaches ensures that you receive the highest quality care tailored to your unique needs.

If you have any additional questions about total knee replacement surgery, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Herrick J. Siegel. He can provide personalized guidance, address your concerns, and support you throughout your journey to reclaiming your mobility and quality of life.

Take the first step towards a life without knee pain by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Herrick J. Siegel today. Together, you can explore the best treatment options and determine if knee replacement surgery is the right choice for you.