For any person considering a total knee replacement, understanding the process is very important. It will give you a greater understanding of the procedure and recovery. Total joint placement, also known as arthroplasty, involves hospitalization to surgically remove the diseased or damaged knee joint. The damaged joint is replaced, during a less than two hour process if no complications, with an artificial one also known as prosthesis. As long as the surgery is a success, patients are usually standing and walking with crutches or a walker the following day and hospitalized for 3-5 days. After total knee replacement mobility is restored and pain relief can be felt almost immediately to the knee.
There are some situations that cause people to postpone knee replacement surgery, including fear. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine (2014) “Many people put off having knee replacement surgery, even when their doctor has assured them that surgery is an appropriate option. Often they feel their pain isn’t bad enough to warrant joint repair. But studies show that waiting until your pain and loss of function are substantial can make joint surgery more difficult and reduce your chance of re-gaining good function.” Even though people believe that fear is a good reason to put off total knee replacement, obesity makes more sense medically. Obesity makes any surgery more risky due to health issues both known and underlying.
Surgery for anyone can result in complications, including blood clots in the legs, or worse, and infection at the surgical site. If caught in time most infections can be treated with antibiotics, but if it spreads down to the joint it may need to be removed and replaced. The possibility of infection can arise for up to two years after surgery, even though preventive actions may only decrease infection rates by up to 3%. Overall, it’s still important to take oral antibiotics for any infection, before dental work and even before urinary exams.
After release from the hospital the patient is still responsible for participating in rehabilitation to help continue building strength and regaining flexibility. Additional techniques are used by your therapist, like massage and applications of cold to help minimize swelling. Recovery from knee replacement, with rehabilitation, is usually about 80% complete within four weeks. It takes about a year or better for full recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician and therapist before starting a new exercise routine or if you have any health care-related questions.
Johns Hopkins Medicine: What Happens During Knee Replacement (n.d.). Retrieved from
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Knee Replacement Surgery (n.d.). Retrieved from
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