10 frequently asked questions about knee replacement surgery
Do you need a knee replacement? Chances are you have a few questions about what you can expect from knee replacement surgery and from your recovery.
Here are some of the common questions that people ask ahead of their total or partial knee replacement surgery.
How does knee replacement surgery work?
In the operating room, your surgeon will make an incision on the front of your knee to expose the damaged area of your joint. The surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage and replace the damaged joint with a new prosthetic joint.
Most knee replacement surgical procedures take around 1.5 to 2 hours to perform.
Will I need anaesthesia?
Before knee replacement surgery you will meet with an anaesthesia team to discuss your medical history and options during surgery. General, regional and peripheral nerve block will help stop the feeling of pain and reduce your awareness of the procedure.
What is a knee joint implant made from?
Your prosthesis is made of medical-grade, wear-resistant plastic and cobalt-chromium or titanium metal. A total knee replacement implant may last patients about 20 years, and for some it can last even longer.
What can I expect from my recovery?
Every individual recovers from any treatment differently. Most people are up and walking on the same day as surgery using crutches or a supportive device. You will experience some pain and immobility for the first few weeks of recovery, and will likely require a walker or crutches to assist your movement for two to four weeks. As your knee movement improves, you will be able to progress to a cane and eventually to no assistive device at all. Following your physical therapy exercises and allowing your leg time to rest will help improve your progress.
Most patients experience full recovery after around three months.
How long will I need pain medication for after knee replacement surgery?
You will experience some pain after surgery, however this will diminish over time. Your surgeon will prescribe strong oral medication to help you manage the initial pain. Most people are able to change over to an over-the-counter medication after one month.
How can I prepare my home for recovery after surgery?
You can make your recovery easier by preparing your home ahead of surgery. Move furniture to clear pathways, create a comfortable recovery space on the first floor of your home, prepare meals ahead of time, purchase over-the-counter pain medication and bandages, and consider applying grab rails and adhesive mats in the bathroom.
Will I need physical therapy after knee replacement surgery?
Yes, physical therapy will play a very important role in your recovery. A physical therapist will take you through a range of exercises whilst you are still in hospital on the day of or the day after surgery. Your physical therapist will help you to walk and move your leg again, and will provide exercises for you to follow at home that will strengthen your knee and improve your mobility.
Will I have any bruising or swelling after surgery?
Patients can experience swelling to the operated area for between 3 to 12 months and bruising for the first few weeks after knee replacement surgery. Compression stockings and gentle activity will help reduce swelling and bruising.
What activities can I do after knee replacement surgery?
Once you feel comfortable, you can get back to doing many of the activities you previously loved, including walking, gardening, golf and activities that don’t put too much pressure on your knee joint. Vigorous physical activities, such as singles tennis, running and skiing should be avoided.
If you enjoy lifting weights, it’s important to wait two months before returning to the gym and start lighter before progressing to heavier weights.
When can I shower again after surgery?
It’s important that you keep your knee dry after the operation. The nursing staff in the hospital will help you to shower the day after the surgery. Before you get your knee wet, check that there is no drainage at the incision. If there is, keep it dry and covered whilst showering.
One of the best things you can do ahead of your knee replacement surgery is gain a full understanding of how the treatment and recovery works. Dr Stuart MacKenzie, one of the top Orthopaedic Surgeons in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, has created a free specialist e-guide - Your complete guide to knee replacements – to help you better understand the procedure.
12 Sep 2019
Published by Stuart MacKenzie