If you’ve been informed knee surgery is a possible option to help relieve your severe pain, or if it’s being offered for an alternative reason, knowing the facts of a procedure can help alleviate stress. For nearly all patients, knee surgery is life-changing in a positive way. After years of suffering from severe pain around the knee area, often caused by osteoarthritis, this relatively straightforward procedure helps restore activity and “everyday life” to many patients previously suffering from pain. Read on to learn more about the procedure itself, why it’s performed, risks and side effects, and benefits.

Why Knee Replacement?

The most common reason to suggest knee replacement surgery is to relieve the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Knee osteoarthritis occurs when osteophytes (bone spurs) build up around the knees, and also when the knee cartilage surrounding the joints breaks down. While osteoarthritis can occur at any age, it most commonly occurs in those over the age of 50. The pain associated with osteoarthritis is particularly limiting because the flare occurs during regular, everyday activities, such as walking and climbing stairs. A patient’s quality of life is severely affected, as they can no longer enjoy activities they once did, in addition to everyday movements being affected. For some, the pain is so severe it even occurs when the knee is at rest.

Because osteoarthritis is a primarily age-related problem, knee replacements can be the best option for many patients. Knee replacement surgery may also be suggested in cases of severe knee pain that does not respond to other treatment or other other joint-related knee problems, including injuries.

What Are Surgery Risks?

All surgeries carry with them some risks, but in the case of knee replacement surgery those risk are minimal. More importantly, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Your Capital Ortho doctor will discuss these risks with you. It is important to make sure your medical history is up-to-date and you disclose all medications, including over the counter or herbal supplements, that you take daily.

Patients may also feel stiff and sore after the procedure or may experience nausea and vomiting, which is often due to pain medication prescribed during recovery. If you have a history of nausea with anesthesia or pain medications, discuss this with the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure. There are several good options to reduce nausea.

Infection after knee replacement surgery is the most common risk. Patients should follow your instructions carefully. Report any increasing redness, drainage, or irritation at the surgical site, or feel fever or chills.

What to Expect with Surgery

Knee replacement surgery typically commands a several-day hospital stay, during which time you can stay in bed and allow yourself time to heal. The procedure itself requires anesthesia, so you will meet and consult with an anaesthesiologist prior to the procedure. To help prevent infection, you’ll receive an intravenous antibiotic before, during, and after the surgery.

The surgery itself, typically, lasts about two hours. Your surgeon will make an incision and remove the kneecap, then attach the artificial knee. Before dressing and closing the wound, the doctor will bend the new piece in many different positions to ensure proper function, fit, and range of motion.

One of the most imperative pieces of post-surgery life will be physical therapy. Physical therapy starts before you even leave the hospital, and you’ll be assigned a list of different exercises to perform each day. These instructions are based on years of experience. To completely recover, performing these exercises–and keeping regular appointments with your physical therapist–is crucial.

It is important to ask questions and discuss recovery issues to determine if your home is “recovery friendly.” Stairs, bathtubs, area rugs,  and other house structures can be difficult early on in the recovery process- make a plan prior to surgery to best navigate these obstacles.

Benefits of Knee Surgery

Recovery time may take several weeks to several months; however, most patients report afterward having a better quality of life, little to no pain, and a return to regular activity. Most knee replacements last up to 15 years with no significant issues or problems. Returning to activities will be directed by your physician and therapist. For example, driving can be strenuous, as it requires your knees to be bent the entire time. With regular checkup, your doctor should be able to inform you when you can return to regular activities. Again, it is to the patient’s best interest to carefully follow post-op and recovery instructions.

If you’re suffering daily from the side effects of osteoarthritis, knee replacement surgery may be the key to rediscovering life again. For a caring, qualified team who cares about patients, choose Capital Ortho for all of your knee replacement surgery questions and needs. Contact us today to make an appointment, to ask questions, or simply for a consultation. You’ll be glad you did.