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Health and Fitness News

A New Knee

Considering knee replacement surgery? Here’s what you can expect from evaluation to recovery.

You’ve had painful knee joints for years. Now, it hurts to bend down, run, jog, or even walk. And you’re finally wondering if it’s time to hang up your original knees for new ones. With the constant advances in replacement surgery, the procedure is looking more and more appealing. With results that are better than they’ve ever been, maybe it’s time to take the replacement plunge.
If you’re considering undergoing knee replacement surgery, here is what to expect before, during, after your procedure.

Before Surgery

Before you head to the operating room for knee replacement, your physician will have you undergo a series of tests to determine the range of motion that your knee has, as well as the extent of damage your knee has sustained. With this knowledge, the appropriate surgical approach can be determined, which helps you have an optimal outcome.

However, just because you want a new knee joint doesn’t mean you’ll get it. In the event you have open or deep sores below the knee, you may not be a candidate, as this puts you at increased risk for post-surgical infection. Also, some individuals have other risk factors that make knee replacement surgery dangerous or not beneficial. Knowing you’re a candidate and understanding what to expect during surgery ensures the process goes as smoothly as possible.

During Surgery

Just as there are many reasons to seek knee replacement surgery, there are many knee replacement options. Depending on the damage to the knee, the surgeon may perform full or partial knee replacement. Regardless of the type of procedure, diseased and damaged bone and joint are removed and in their place, a joint made of plastics, metals, and polymers takes the place of the removed joint.

Depending on the procedure, your surgeon may utilize arthroscopy or an open technique. With arthroscopy, surgeons perform your procedure through a series of tiny incisions. A small video camera is inserted into one of the incisions to guide the surgeon and small instruments are used to repair or replace damaged areas. Open procedures require a larger incision as expected and is more likely to be used with total joint replacement.

After Surgery

Following surgery, rehabilitation begins. Physical therapists help you regain function of your knee, while occupational therapists will help you learn to perform tasks of daily living. For a safe recovery, you’ll need to make sure your home is safe to walk through. Tripping over stairs or a bunched-up rug, slipping in the shower, or having to dodge clutter puts you at risk for severe injury that slows your recovery tremendously.

Typical recovery from knee replacement takes between three and six weeks, but some cases recover more quickly and others take longer, based on the adherence to rehabilitation guidelines set forth by the surgeon and the individual’s overall health prior to the procedure.

Unfortunately, knee replacements don’t come with a lifetime guarantee. Like your natural joints, artificial joints have a limited shelf life and may eventually require replacement. They typically last 15 years or longer, but abusing the artificial joint repeatedly can cause it to wear down even faster, requiring earlier replacement. Therefore, it’s a good idea to talk with your physician to find out how you should treat your new knee to give it the longest possible life, so you can enjoy years of life without pain.