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Total Knee Replacement Surgery: What to Expect

Total knee replacement surgery can provide positive outcomes when knee pain and loss of mobility have eroded your quality of life and are limiting your daily low-impact activities.

The procedure relieves pain and restores function lost from multiple damaged or diseased knee joint compartments. The decision to pursue total knee replacement surgery should be made in consultation with your orthopedic specialist. Together, you can review and evaluate your options, including a realistic view of goals and expectations.

Knee replacement surgery does not restore the ability to participate in high-impact activities; however, it can enable you to resume low-impact activities for many years. Most knee replacement surgery patients experience a major change in pain reduction and a substantial increase in mobility.

If a total knee replacement surgery is right for you, it’s important to fully understand the procedure, including how to prepare, and what to expect before, during, and after surgery.

Preparing for Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Successful preparation for total knee replacement surgery ensures that you are physically and mentally ready for rehab and recovery. Planning for an extended period of limited mobility takes time, attention, and consideration of your basic daily needs and how they can be easily reached.

Stock up on essentials and take stock of your activities and surroundings. Create a list of the basic tasks you perform daily and, ideally, make arrangements to avoid stairs during the first few weeks of your recovery. Prep your home by removing tripping hazards and ensuring wide pathways that enable daily movement. Obtain necessary supplies that reduce the need for trips to the store and don’t hesitate to ask for help! Your mobility will improve each week, but having assistance when you need it reduces the risk of a fall, the strain on your body, and saves your energy for essential physical therapy.

During Surgery

Total knee replacement surgery involves four key elements. First, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed, and the tibia and femur bones are prepared to receive the implant. Next, the metal knee joint implants are positioned and fit to the bone. The patella (kneecap) is then resurfaced as needed. Finally, a spacer is inserted between the metal components to restore knee alignment and function.

After Surgery: Your Recovery and Rehab Plan

Total knee replacement generally has a three-to-six-month recovery period. Individual timelines are determined by patient health, pre-surgery activity levels, and other patient circumstances. A positive attitude is a tremendous tool in your recovery and rehab plan. Rehab plays an essential role in restoring joint mobility and your successful outcome can be directly influenced by your commitment to your recovery plan through to its full completion.

Recovery milestones are typically broken into two key periods: short-term and long-term recovery. Short-term recovery is achieved when the patient can walk with minimal or no aid when you no longer require prescription pain medication and can maintain sustained short-distance movement without a break.

Long-term recovery is measured by improvements in strength, stability, range of motion, and pain levels compared to pre-surgery levels. This level of recovery includes full surgical site and soft tissue healing as well as the resumption of low-impact activities with little or no pain. Short-term recovery is often achieved in 12 weeks whereas long-term recovery is often achieved in three to six months.

Physical therapy is an essential part of total knee replacement surgery recovery, and it begins right away! Your surgeon will want you moving as soon as a few hours following surgery, and your physical therapy plan will progress with you through your short-term and long-term recovery phases. With good preparation, a positive attitude, and a full commitment to your rehab plan, many patients achieve very good outcomes from a total knee replacement.

Dr. Michael Schuck, Dr. Ronald Hollis, Dr. Derek B. Purcell, Dr. Byron Ellis and the CCOE team can help you determine if total knee replacement is right for you and guide you through each step of your recovery journey. Contact us today to learn if total knee replacement surgery is the right option for your knee pain.

What’s the difference between total knee replacement surgery and partial knee replacement surgery?

Comparing total knee replacement surgery vs. partial knee replacement surgery? If you are experiencing severe knee pain and advanced knee arthritis, what do you need to know about which option is right for you?

Knees serve invaluable functions in our daily movements and the resulting wear and tear can impair stability, inhibit daily activities and yield debilitating pain.

Total knee replacement and partial knee replacement can offer quality outcomes for patients experiencing the debilitating knee pain from diseased or injured knees. If you have severe, chronic knee pain that limits your ability to walk, climb stairs or get in or out of a car – among other things – you’re probably looking for relief.

While it’s often best to pursue and exhaust non-surgical options before considering any type of knee replacement, these procedures can help restore function, reduce pain and improve quality of life.

An experienced orthopedic specialist will want to evaluate your range of motion, stability and strength and knee imaging to determine your best course of treatment.

The knee is comprised of three main sections: the medial compartment, the lateral compartment and the patellofemoral joint, and the course of treatment depends on the level of damage to these three compartments.

Total knee replacement, or arthroplasty, relieves severe knee pain and restores function lost from severely damaged or diseased knee joints that span two or more knee compartments.

Partial knee replacement, however, may be a good option for patients with advanced arthritis from years or wear and tear or inflammation that is contained to only one compartment of the knee.

In arthroplasty, or total knee replacement, damaged knee cartilage and bone are removed and replaced with a metal or plastic prosthesis. The kind of prosthesis used is determined by a patient’s heath, age, weight, activity level.

The latest techniques use robotics to enhance precision often resulting in a faster recovery by limiting the size and extent of incisions. Doing so can preserve a patient’s healthy ligaments.

This includes a technique called Mako SmartRobotics™ for Total Knee replacement, which transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed, enabling surgeons to increase both accuracy and predictability of outcomes.

Total knee replacement surgery typically takes a few hours and is often followed by a hospital stay of a couple of days to provide rest, pain management and monitoring prior to the transition into a recovery therapy routine.

Within weeks – often as few as three – many light activities such as basic daily functions and driving may resume. Upon full recovery, patients can successfully resume daily walking and low impact physical activities such as biking, swimming or golfing.

Total knee replacements frequently improve patients’ quality of life by providing pain relief and enhanced mobility. Total knee replacements often last 15 or more years.

Like all surgeries, arthroplasty carries risks that include blood clots, infection, nerve damage, stroke, heart attack, or joint failure.

In a partial knee replacement, damaged cartilage or bone that is limited to one area of the knee can be resurfaced or replaced. While any compartment can wear out, the most common compartment failure for partial knee replacement is damage to the medial compartment.

Partial knee replacements help realign and restore knee stability to support positive outcomes. Most partial replacements are outpatient surgery and recovery timelines tend to be faster than with total knee replacement.

In both procedures, outcomes are best if you are otherwise healthy and maintain your physical fitness. This is particularly helpful post-surgery when physical therapy is an integral component of recovery. Patients should expect to commit to several months of physical therapy with either procedure.

Total knee replacement and partial knee replacement can each offer quality outcomes that restore knee function and get patients back to many life activities. To thoroughly evaluate your knee and determine if surgery is right for you, schedule an appointment with a qualified orthopedic surgeon that specializes in knee replacement.

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