Before a knee replacement surgery, be sure to discuss any concerns or questions you have with your doctor. You should also make sure you have a plan in place for transportation following surgery since you will not be able to drive yourself home. Be prepared to rest for a few days following treatment.
You may need to reduce or eliminate some medications, such as pain relievers or blood thinners like aspirin, a few days before surgery. You will also likely need to eliminate smoking and reduce alcohol consumption in the days leading up to surgery to reduce the risk of complications.
After surgery, your doctor may recommend pain medications, icing, or compression devices. A replaced knee will require some time to heal. Mild discomfort or pain in the first few weeks following surgery is normal. Your doctor will recommend exercises and steps to take to minimize this discomfort and help you regain strength and range of motion following surgery.
A total knee replacement is performed by an orthopedic surgeon in a Dignity Health hospital or outpatient surgery center. The surgery can be either an open procedure or a minimally invasive arthroscopy. Arthroscopic knee surgery uses smaller incisions and results in a shorter hospital stay, less pain, and quicker recovery. In either case, total knee replacement is major surgery that requires general anesthesia. You will not be awake during the operation, and you won’t feel pain.
Depending on the type of surgery, you may spend several days in the hospital. It may also be necessary to stay in a rehabilitation center before returning home. Once at home, you will need help with daily activities for a while. It will likely be eight to 12 weeks of recovery time.
Physical therapy is an essential part of recovery. It will help you regain knee function with less pain. Full recovery can take up to 12 months.
Most people return to their favorite activities with very few problems. You can help prolong the life of your new knee joint by maintaining a healthy weight. People who are overweight have a higher rate of joint failure because of the added pressure on their joints. You should also exercise regularly to strengthen and stabilize your knee and take care to avoid falls. Most knee implants still work well 15 years after surgery.
Dignity Health offers complete care for joint problems and injuries, including total knee replacement, in as part of our orthopedic services.
After knee replacement surgery, most people find they can return to normal activities with less pain and a greater range of motion than before the procedure.
You may experience some pain while healing and regaining strength. However, in the long term, knee replacements have one of the highest satisfaction ratings of all osteoarthritis procedures. If you have chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, a knee replacement may be the key to living a more active life with less pain.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.