If you are considering or preparing for knee replacement surgery, you most likely have been living with worsening pain in your knee – especially during movement – for a long time. You probably are well-versed in all the latest treatments for knee osteoarthritis, including physical therapy, exercise, medication, and therapeutic injections.
At some point, you have likely noticed that your knee pain stopped responding to standard treatments, and your pain began to limit your activity. This is when total knee arthroplasty surgery can give you the best chance of living an active and pain-free life again.
Don’t let the name of the surgery overwhelm you. Total knee replacement surgery is one of the most common and most successful orthopedic surgeries performed today. Knowing that your goal is greater mobility and less pain, you can look ahead to what you should anticipate, what you can do to make recovery quicker and more successful, and what your life will be like after a full recovery.
Your experience will be unique, but it will also share features common to most knee replacement surgeries. Just remember that a successful total knee arthroplasty depends on preparation, execution of that plan, and the flexibility to adjust to your unique circumstances. Let’s see what your journey might look like.
Prior to Knee Surgery
Before having total knee replacement surgery, it is highly advisable that you prepare your body. Extra weight places added stress on your weight-bearing joints, and it also can increase your risk of complications – so following a healthy diet and getting as close to your ideal weight as possible is recommended as you prepare your body for surgery. Also, smoking slows down the healing process and increases your risk of developing pneumonia after surgery, so if you smoke, it is in your best interest to quit.
Orthopedic surgeons generally encourage patients to exercise in the weeks before surgery in order to strengthen the structures that support their knees. Exercises such as thigh squeeze, straight-leg raises, side-lying straight-leg raises, knee bends, and sitting kicks will all help to improve your strength and flexibility.
The home environment that you will return to after surgery will set the stage for successful rehabilitation, so be sure to get everything in place and make room for getting around. If you have a multilevel home, it is a good idea to make sure that you have everything you need on the same level as your bedroom, including food, drinks, phone, entertainment, and medications, including those prescribed to you for your recovery after surgery.
You’ll also want to make sure that there are no tripping hazards, such as throw rugs, electrical cords, or small toys in the area where you will walk around. Arrange to have a friend or family member stay with you for a few weeks after your total knee arthroplasty until you feel stronger.
Day of Surgery
Your surgery may be performed in a hospital where you will remain for typically just one night, or it may be done on an outpatient basis. You can expect to meet your anesthesiologist, who will answer any questions you may have about your anesthesia. Most knee replacement surgeries are done using a nerve block and spinal anesthesia. You will still be completely asleep, but since it avoids general anesthesia it does not require a breathing tube, which makes the process safer and lowers the risk of any possible complications.
Your total knee arthroplasty procedure will take about an hour or less. During this time, your surgeon will remove the damaged surfaces of your knee joint and replace it with a new prosthetic joint made of special metal and plastic materials. The prosthetic knee joint will be attached to your upper and lower leg bones. Your next stop will be the recovery room.
Immediately After Total Knee Arthroplasty
Right after the operation, the nurses in the recovery room will be there while you are waking up from the anesthesia. They will also give you pain medication to relieve any discomfort. Before you know it, you will be either moving to your hospital room or getting ready to go home.
Rehabilitation of the New Knee
After the surgery, rehabilitation is the next key aspect of a successful knee replacement. Even later that day of the surgery, you will be encouraged to start moving your feet and ankles and to start walking.
Physical therapy will most likely start within a few hours of surgery and will continue for a few months. Initially, passive and active range-of-motion exercises will be encouraged: Passive motions are done with the help of your hands or by your therapist, and active motions are done with you actually moving your leg and knee. Your physical therapist will develop an exercise plan for you to follow during your rehabilitation for optimum results.
Orthopedic Surgeon in Raleigh
If you are ready to ease the pain of knee arthritis and improve your quality of life, it is time to call the offices of Dr. Brett Gilbert. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with years of success performing total knee arthroplasty, and he can give you an efficient evaluation and explain all of your options for achieving pain relief once and for all.
If you have any questions or are looking for advice on dealing with knee arthritis, contact our friendly team today by calling us at (919) 788-8797 or you can request an appointment with Dr. Gilbert using our appointment request form, or you can self-schedule your appointment here.