Who needs a total knee replacement?
If you suffer from osteoarthritis and/or degenerative joint disease in your knees, and nonsurgical treatments haven’t been enough to relieve your pain and limited mobility, you may be a candidate. Candidates typically struggle with walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. They may even suffer from knee pain while at rest. If you think you may be a candidate, see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.
What happens during a total knee replacement?
During the procedure, 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 plastic. The new parts will restore the smooth surfaces of your joint, allowing your knee to roll and glide without pain. The surgery normally takes two hours total.
How do you recover?
Following total knee replacement, patients typically stay in the hospital for two to four days. However, they 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 crutches or a walker. You will be taught to gradually increase the amount you walk and be given strengthening exercises to perform several times each day.
How long until you see results?
Most patients experience dramatic improvements in pain within weeks. At six weeks, most can walk with minimal assistance from crutches or a walker. Today, specialized techniques allow surgeons to perform the procedure without making a large incision. This results in less tissue damage, less pain, and faster recovery times.
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 make 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.