When is Knee Replacement Helpful for Arthritis?

Is the arthritis in your knee getting you down? Perhaps you can no longer engage in work or recreational activities because it’s just too hard to bend the knee. You miss the camaraderie when playing tennis. Perhaps your gardening is going by the wayside. 

Today’s knee replacement surgery can be life-changing. More than 90 percent of those who have a knee replacement have significant improvement in mobility and much less pain. Further, the great majority of replacements last 20 years or more. 

Dr. Michael Hood, board-certified orthopaedic surgeon at Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, performs knee replacements using the latest medical technology, including robot-assisted surgery, to ensure the best outcomes. 

When is it time for a knee replacement? 

Before suggesting surgery, Dr. Hood typically tries cortisone shots along with physical therapy to ease your pain. He may also give you a hyaluronic acid injection, which increases the fluid in your joint. 

Physical therapy often helps to a degree, but in some cases it might not. The effect of the cortisone shot or hyaluronic acid may last a few months, but if the pain comes roaring back, it’s likely time to consider surgery. 

When you’ve exhausted all of the other more conservative options and your knee pain is disrupting your quality of life, Dr. Hood discusses knee replacement with you. 

Do any of the following symptoms describe your condition? 

Sounds like it’s time for surgery. 

What’s involved in knee replacement surgery? 

Dr. Hood determines if you need knee replacement surgery, and whether that procedure needs to be a partial or total replacement. A partial replacement involves only one side of the joint, while a total replacement gives you a new joint.

In the weeks prior to the surgery, you have physical therapy appointments to strengthen your leg muscles so they support you when you start walking after the operation. Exercise to the best of your ability; the better your physical shape, the more quickly you’re likely to recover. 

Before the surgery, prepare your home. For example, remove small area rugs, which are a slipping hazard. Make a straight path from your bed to the bathroom. Arrange to have help in the days after the surgery if you live by yourself. 

You go for pre-op tests like electrocardiograms before the procedure. You receive a dose of antibiotics just before the surgery to lessen any chance of infection; if you’ve had MRSA or another condition that has hampered your immune system, you take the antibiotic for a number of days.

The surgery usually takes 1-3 hours. You’re under general anesthesia and/or a nerve block. In some cases, Dr. Hood can do the operation on an outpatient basis, while other patients may need to stay in the hospital one or two days. 

Dr. Hood discusses what is going to happen during the operation and explains why he has selected a particular operative method that meets your individual needs

Length of knee replacement recovery

You’ll begin to have more normal days, although you’ll be moving more slowly, at or before six weeks after your surgery, and be able to drive in 3-6 weeks, depending on which leg is affected. You should be able to enjoy low-impact aerobic activities such as golf, moderate biking, or dancing at about three months

At 4-6 months, your leg should be feeling pretty normal if you’ve completed physical therapy (normally for three months) and practiced every day at home. 

Approach knee replacement realistically. Expect some discomfort during recovery, but as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. Your recovery will be that much quicker if you follow all instructions. 

Call or book an appointment online with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine today if you have chronic knee pain from arthritis. We provide a range of state-of-the-art treatments to get you moving again. 

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