Knee Replacement FAQs
What is a total knee replacement?
Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure where the worn out surfaces of the knee are resurfaced with metal and plastic components. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the bones can wear away, cause pain and discomfort, and make simple pleasures like walking and shopping unbearable. Knee replacement can reduce or eliminate pain, allow easier movement and get you back to normal life.
Who is a candidate?
Knee replacement surgery may be considered for those suffering from arthritic knee pain that severely limits the activities of daily living. It is only recommended after careful examination and diagnosis of your particular joint problem, and only after more conservative measures such as exercise, physical therapy, and medications have proven ineffective.
What kind of knee implant is best?
There are many kinds and designs of knee implants available today, and no one design or type is best for every patient or situation. Each surgeon selects the implant that they believe is best for the patient’s needs based on a number of factors including age, activity level, the implant’s track record, and his or her comfort with the instruments associated with the particular implant. If you have specific questions regarding implants, your surgeon will be happy to answer them for you.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most people will be able to go straight home from the hospital. Some patients, particularly those that live alone, may need to spend a few days at a rehab center or nursing home. With improvements in surgical techniques and post-op care, it is now common for many patients to be able to go home from the hospital after two or three days. If you have both knees replaced at the same time, the stay can be a day or two longer. Of course, each patient is different, but the goal is for you to recover in the comfort and privacy of your own home as soon as possible. Keep in mind that healing and recovery times can vary.
How long is the recovery period?
This will vary from person to person, but most people will need to use an ambulation aid, such as a walker, until cleared by physical therapy. Driving may be possible in 2 to 3 weeks, and activities such as golf and bowling can be resumed in as few as 10 to 12 weeks. Some activities are not recommended after knee replacement.
What are the risks?
Even though knee replacement surgery is considered a very successful procedure, it is major surgery. As with any surgery, there are risks. Possible complications include:
- Blood clots in your leg veins
- Implant loosening
- Nerve or blood vessel damage
- Knee stiffness
Your surgeon and healthcare team will be taking great care to minimize the risk of these and other complications. Keep in mind that complications are relatively rare, but they need to be understood by you and your family. Your surgeon will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
How much does total knee replacement hurt?
You will experience some discomfort after surgery, but be assured we will be doing everything we can to keep you as comfortable as possible. Pain after surgery is not entirely predictable and varies from person to person. Modern medications and improved anesthetic techniques greatly enhance our ability to control pain and discomfort after surgery.
Will I need a blood transfusion?
Your surgical team will be doing everything possible to minimize bleeding, but some blood loss after joint replacement is unavoidable. Whether or not a blood transfusion is required will depend greatly on highly individualized factors, including your condition prior to surgery, cardiac history, age, etc.
What if I have other questions?