Who Needs a Total Knee Replacement?
If arthritis or injury has damaged your knee, and nonsurgical treatments haven’t been enough to relieve your pain and limited mobility, a total knee replacement could offer relief. Knee replacement candidates often struggle with walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. They may even suffer from knee pain while sitting or lying down. If you think you may be a candidate, see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.
What Can You Expect from the Procedure?
During the procedure, which takes from one to two hours, your surgeon will remove damaged bone and diseased cartilage in your knee. He or she will then replace these with artificial joint parts made of metal and special, high-density plastic. The new parts will restore the smooth surfaces of your joint, allowing your knee to roll and glide without pain.
How Do You Recover?
Following a total knee replacement, patients typically stay in the hospital for one to two days. However, you are usually encouraged to try standing and moving the day after surgery. A physical therapist will show you how to exercise your knee and use a walker. You will be taught to gradually increase the amount you walk and be given strengthening exercises to perform several times each day. Certain activities like running, jumping, or other high-impact sports are discouraged after a total knee replacement, since they can cause unnecessary wear on the new joint.
When Will You See Results?
The majority of patients experience dramatic improvements within weeks, if they are following appropriate home care. At two to four weeks, most can walk without crutches or a walker. Day to day activity is encouraged immediately, and physical therapy usually lasts one to two months.
How Long Does a Total Knee Replacement Last?
Today’s total knee replacements can last 15, 20, and sometimes even up to 25 years. But with continual advancements in surgical techniques and prosthetic designs, these numbers may improve. You can help your knee last longer by staying moderately active (without overdoing it), maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping in touch with your doctor and physical therapist.