If you’ve been undergoing treatment for knee arthritis and haven’t gotten any pain relief yet, your doctor may recommend a total knee replacement surgery.
According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, over 90% of people who undergo a total knee replacement experience a dramatic decrease in knee pain and are able to resume their daily activities post surgery. If a total knee replacement is recommended by your physician, there is nothing to worry about. Here’s what you can do to physically prepare yourself for the surgery:
- Talk to your physical therapist or exercise professional about strengthening and stretching exercises that can help your knee.
- You may need to lose weight with a program of controlled exercise and healthy nutrition. Your physician will indicate if you need to consult a registered dietician.
- Be sure to give your doctor a list of every medication you take to eliminate the possibility of any adverse effects while under anesthesia.
Following surgery, your hospital stay can be between 3 to 7 days. You’ll most likely receive fluids and antibiotics intravenously to ward off infection, and you’ll also get pain medications every 3-4 hours. During recovery, your doctor will be closely watching to make sure that you don’t develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot in the leg veins. Be sure to wear your leg stockings and perform foot and ankle exercises as mentioned by your therapist to help prevent blood clots.
Physical therapy is an essential component of recovery after surgery. It is begun as soon as possible after surgery to help you learn to walk with walking aids, and help you manage daily activities (like getting out of bed or a car, and going up and downstairs). Many patients will spend a portion of their days on a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine, which bends and straightens the leg repeatedly while the patient lies in bed.
As specialists in rehabilitation, our goal is to gradually increase your level of physical activity to help you return to normal activities at home.
If you’ve exhausted nonsurgical treatment options such as medication, lifestyle modification, and exercises, but still aren’t ready for a total knee replacement, ask your doctor about other surgical options.
For instance, arthroscopy is considered a common alternative to total knee replacement. The most popular arthroscopic procedure used to relieve knee pain from osteoarthritis is debridement. In this procedure, surgeons scrape away the damaged tissue until they reach a layer of healthy tissue.
Keep in mind, though, that this operation is likely to postpone total knee replacement for a variable period (generally three to five years) rather than replacing it entirely.
Once you’re released from the hospital, be sure to continue with the recommended therapy exercises to ensure a good recovery. The length of exercise therapy will depend on your age, fitness level, and motivation but typically lasts 6 to 8 weeks.
Between your therapy sessions, our skilled exercise professionals will suggest some home exercises to be done, to help speed your recovery. These home exercises are crucial and should not be ignored.
A WORD OF CAUTION:
The risk of injury after a total knee replacement is great, so make sure that you follow our advice closely when performing exercises. Discuss all new exercises with us, your exercise professionals before trying them to be sure that they’re suitable for your condition.