The knee joint can be vulnerable to injury and to chronic conditions such as arthritis, which can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Knee replacement surgery, known also as knee arthroplasty, is often necessary when the knee joint is significantly worn or damaged.
This surgery replaces all or part of the knee joint with artificial parts (prosthetics) depending on the damage that must be corrected. Knee replacement surgery can be a great solution to increase your mobility and provide significant pain relief once you have begun recovery from the operation.
How Is a Total Knee Replacement Done?
During a total knee replacement, the surgeon removes all of the damaged knee joint through an incision on the side of your patella (kneecap). The surgeon will remove the bottom of the thighbone (femur), the top of the shinbone (tibia), and the entire patella. They are replaced with an artificial joint, whose parts will take time to fuse and heal with the natural bones.
Minimally invasive knee replacement is an alternative to traditional total knee replacement surgery. The surgeon uses smaller incisions than in traditional open surgery, which means an easier recovery, reduced post-operative pain, a shorter hospital stay, and a smaller scar.
Preparing for Recovery After Knee Surgery
Recovery from a total knee replacement can take time, and it requires others to help you in the beginning. It pays to prepare before the surgery in order to ensure that your recovery is as successful as it can be, and to have you back to doing your normal activities as soon as possible.
Any type of surgery can take its toll on you physically, so making sure you’re in the best possible shape can really help with your recovery. If you are carrying excess weight, try to lose some prior to the operation in order to reduce the stress on your new knee as well as your “good” knee.
If you can, quit smoking. Smoking raises your chances of complications and infection during and after surgery. It can also make wounds take longer to heal and prolong your recovery.
Gentle exercise, such as swimming or walking, in the weeks and months leading up to your knee surgery – combined with strengthening exercises for the muscles around your knee – are most beneficial and will help to put you in the best shape for a successful recovery. Exercises for your arms and upper body may also be recommended to make it easier for you to get around on crutches or a walker after the surgery.
Right after the knee replacement surgery, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days. You will be given pain medication to help make you more comfortable, and your doctor may also prescribe blood-thinning medication and special support stockings to help prevent blood clots and swelling.
Your leg will need to be kept elevated to reduce the swelling. You may be prescribed compression boots and a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine to improve circulation, decrease swelling, and restore movement in your knee.
Compression boots are inflatable leg coverings that are attached to a machine to gently squeeze your legs to aid blood circulation. A CPM machine moves your leg in a cycling motion while you are in bed.
Physical Therapy After a Knee Replacement
Maintaining movement in the knee after surgery is very important, and you will probably begin physical therapy the next day. A walker or crutches will be required initially while standing and walking.
Your physical therapist (PT) will show you how to walk and use the stairs with your new knee. You will also be given an exercise program to strengthen your knee when you return home.
It is very important to follow the program and to stay active at home, while remembering not to overdo it. Over time, you should notice a steady improvement in your strength and endurance.
Occupational Therapy After a Knee Operation
An occupational therapist will help you learn how to manage safely at home. They will show you how to carry out normal actions, such as dressing and bathing, and can also recommend equipment to help you, such as an elevated toilet seat or a shower chair. These can help to prevent falls and reinjury of your knee.
You will receive home care instructions and safety guidance to follow during the first few weeks following surgery. It is very important to follow these in order to recover successfully.
Knee Replacement Surgery in North Dakota
A total knee replacement can be a great solution when other treatments haven’t worked effectively. The procedure is highly successful in a majority of cases, and most patients experience a dramatic reduction in pain or no more knee pain at all. They also enjoy improved mobility and a successful return to previously enjoyed activities.
If you have chronic knee pain and want to explore whether knee replacement surgery is the right option for you, contact The Bone & Joint Center today. Call us at (800) 424-2663 to make an appointment with one of our knee replacement surgeons, or visit our appointment request page to get started. We look forward to helping you enjoy a more pain-free, active lifestyle once again