Hundreds of thousands of people have knee replacement surgery each year, and fewer than 4% need to have another surgery, called revision surgery, to correct problems. This means that you’re likely to undergo surgery, recover, and get back to doing the things you enjoy!
You probably have some questions about what you should expect during your recovery, though. The expert care providers at Orthocenter understand that knee replacement surgery and recovery can present challenges. In this post we discuss some of the things you can do to prepare and to make the most of your recovery.
Most people who need total joint replacement have some kind of degenerative condition, such as arthritis. That means your knee has likely been causing pain for a long time, and that you’ve tried other treatment options, such as injections or using pain medication.
Your knees are the largest joints in your body, and they do much more work than most people realize. Even something as simple as sitting down or getting up from a chair requires your knees. In degenerative conditions, the cartilage in the joint that provides cushioning and allows the bones to move smoothly wears out and is damaged.
As your cartilage wears out, moving your joint becomes more difficult. Your knee probably feels stiff, and may be swollen, inflamed, and tender.
When you have knee replacement surgery, your doctor removes the damaged tissue and bone, then places devices on your bones so your knee can function again.
You may be surprised to learn that you’ll most likely be up and walking — with assistance and an aid like a walker — within hours of your surgery. The sooner you begin using your knee, the better the chances your recovery will be quick and successful.
Hospital stays following joint replacement surgery have been decreasing for years, and currently, most people stay about 1-2 days following the procedure. One thing you can do before your surgery that will help you afterward is to have a plan.
You’re likely going to need help for the first week or two. You won’t be able to climb stairs, so if your bedroom is upstairs, you need to have a plan for sleeping downstairs. You may want to have some frozen meals on hand.
Do your physical therapy. Attend your appointments and do the work at home your therapist recommends. Strengthening the structures around your new knee is one of the keys to a successful recovery.
You’ll also gain flexibility and range of motion through the exercises that are part of your physical therapy. You’re likely to have better knee function after your replacement than you did before, especially if you’re careful to follow your therapist’s and doctor’s instructions.
Most people can walk without an assistive device like a cane in about six weeks after their procedure. You’ll likely need around 12 weeks of physical therapy, although that varies from person to person.
You’ll need to avoid high impact activities even after you’re released from physical therapy. Jumping rope is probably not a good idea.
It’s unlikely that your new knee will feel just like your natural joint did. You’ll be aware of it, and you may even have some symptoms, such as swelling or crackling. However, symptoms such as pain and decreased function will likely be far better once you’re fully recovered from the procedure.
If you have specific questions about your recovery, please make an appointment at one of the three locations of Orthocenter so our experts can provide information tailored for your situation.