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How Long Does Knee Surgery Take To Heal

What Is A Partial Knee Replacement

How Long Does It Take To Get Over A Knee Replacement?

A partial knee replacementalso called unicompartmental knee replacement or partial knee arthroplastyis a surgical procedure in which damaged bone or cartilage involving only one surface of the knee joint is removed and replaced with metal or plastic parts. Partial knee replacement has several advantages over , including shorter recovery time and more range of motion preserved after surgery. But partial knee replacement is only an option for people with knee damage in just one place, either the inside, outside or kneecap.

How Long Will I Be On Pain Medications

You will likely need some form of pain medication for two to three weeks. Again, there is a high degree of variability with some using narcotic medication for less than one week, and others for up to four weeks. Most people are able to wean off narcotic medication within one month and switch to an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.

If you do not have serious medical problems such as hypertension, heart disease, kidney or liver impairment, or a history of prior stomach/intestinal ulcers or reflux, it may be helpful to take an anti-inflammatory medication in addition to your narcotic medication immediately after surgery. Your surgeon will usually recommend this at the time of surgery if appropriate. Stop all anti-inflammatory medications if they cause severe stomach pain, bloody stools, or severe swelling in your extremities.

Why Is Partial Knee Replacement Performed

The most common reason for partial knee replacement is single-compartmental knee damage from advanced osteoarthritissignificant wear and tear on the knee joint. People with knee have damaged cartilage, which is the shock absorber in joints. When the cartilage begins to wear out, the joint movements arent as smooth, and the bones begin to rub against each other causing pain and stiffness. Knee replacement is a treatment option for most people after a course of nonsurgical treatments arent successful at relieving the pain and discomfort or your symptoms are interfering with your daily activities. The goal of knee replacement is to make knee movement pain-free, smooth and stable.

Although total knee replacement is a common procedure, people who have arthritic damage in only a single part, or compartment of the knee may be good candidates for partial knee replacement surgery. The medical terms for the different compartments are medial , lateral , and patellofemoral .

One of the main benefits of partial knee replacement is the preservation of healthy cartilage, bone and ligaments in the unaffected parts of the knee. It is usually a minimally invasive operation with smaller incision instead of one larger one for open knee replacement. With a half-knee replacementoften the medial sidethere is a possibility of further wear and tear on the other half. This would require replacing the entire knee joint in another surgery.

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How Is Partial Knee Replacement Performed

You will have surgery in a hospital or orthopedic specialty surgery center. Before your surgery date, discuss your anesthesia options with your surgeon. You may have a choice of regional anesthesia, which is when you are awake but numb from the waist down. The surgical team will most likely give you a sedative to make you groggy and relaxed during the procedure. The other option is to be completely asleep using general anesthesia.

The will make a cut in your knee about three to five inches long to ensure the damage is confined to just one part of your knee. Typically, knee imaging beforehand will determine the extent of damage, but if there is more damage to the knee than expected, you may need a total knee replacement instead. Your surgeon should discuss this possibility with you in advance.

Partial knee replacement surgery is less invasive than total knee replacement, and the recovery is much quicker and easier. Youll be able to start moving again right away. Depending on your overall health and how you fare after surgery, you may have a hospital stay of only one to two days.

When Can I Return To Work

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This depends on your profession. Typically, if your work is primarily sedentary you may be able to return within one week. If your work is extremely rigorous, you may require eight to 10 weeks before you return to full duty. Your physician will help you determine an appropriate return-to-work date, and will also provide any needed paperwork.

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How Long Will I Need Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement Surgery

Physical therapy is one of the key parts of your recovery. Physical therapists like myself use a combination of exercises, education and hands-on care to strengthen your body, teach you how to avoid injury and help you learn how to use your new knees.

Youll start regularly working with physical therapists within the first week after surgery. At TRIA, well work with you to develop a personalized therapy plan, which usually involves about three months of meeting with your physical therapist.

These first three months of physical therapy after knee replacement surgery are critical to setting you up for a successful recovery. And many of the moves you learn will be useful long-term to keep your joint feeling good.

Treatment plans are unique to each patient, but heres what you can expect:

One to three weeks after surgery

The first few weeks after knee replacement surgery your physical therapist will focus on helping you reduce pain and feel more confident on your feet.

Youll start working on a daily routine of strengthening and flexibility exercises with your physical therapist. During this time, youll also work on bending your knees, getting up from a sitting position and walking.

Typically, youll be able to bend your knees at a 90 degree angle, fully straighten your knee, and walk for at least 10 consecutive minutes during this stage of physical therapy.

Four to six weeks after surgery

Seven to 12 weeks after surgery

12 weeks after surgery and beyond

Similar Conditions That Affect The Knee

Meniscus tear

Sometimes patients with knee pain don’t have arthritis at all. Each knee has two rings of cartilage called “menisci” . The menisci work similarly to shock absorbers in a car.

Menisci may be torn acutely in a fall or as the result of other trauma or they may develop degenerative tears from wear-and-tear over many years. Patients with meniscus tears experience pain along the inside or outside of the knee. Sometimes the pain is worse with deep squatting or twisting. Popping and locking of the knee are also occasional symptoms of meniscus tears.

Since some of these symptoms may be present with arthritis and the treatment of arthritis is different from that of meniscus tears, it is important to make the correct diagnosis. A good orthopedic surgeon can distinguish the two conditions by taking a thorough history, performing a careful physical examination, and by obtaining imaging tests. X-rays and Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans may be helpful in distinguishing these two conditions.

Knee Joint Infections

Also called infectious arthritis or septic arthritis, a joint infection is a severe problem that requires emergent medical attention. If not treated promptly knee infections can cause rapid destruction of the joint. In the worst cases they can become life-threatening.Symptoms of a knee joint infection include:

  • severe pain
  • fevers and

Again, a joint infection is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

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How Can I Learn More About Recovering From A Knee Replacement

The best way to learn what to expect while recovering from knee replacement surgery is to talk to an expert orthopedist.

Our team of orthopedic doctors and orthopedic surgeons at TRIA are some of the best in the Midwest. Weve performed thousands of joint replacements, and 97 percent of our patients report being able to walk down stairs without difficulty a year after surgery.

When youre ready for surgery, our team of expert orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and other care providers will be by your side every step of the way from your first appointment through your recovery.

About Amy Haynes, PT, DPT

Amy Haynes, PT, DPT specializes in orthopedic physical therapy with an emphasis on total joint replacement and osteoarthritis. She enjoys helping patients remain independent within their home environments for as long as possible and continue their recreational past-times.

Different Types Of Surgery

Why Does It Take So Long to Recover from a Knee Replacement?

There are 5 main types of knee replacement surgery:

  • Total knee replacement. This is the most common form. Your surgeon replaces the surfaces of the thigh bone and shin bone that connects to the knee.
  • Partial knee replacement. If arthritis affects only one side of your knee, this surgery may be a possibility. However, itâs only right for you if you have strong knee ligaments and the rest of the cartilage in the knee is normal. Partial knee replacement can be performed through a smaller cut than is needed for total knee replacement.
  • Patellofemoral replacement. This replaces only the under-surface of the kneecap and the groove the kneecap sits in. This can be very effective for people with chronic kneecap arthritis.
  • Complex knee replacement. This procedure may be needed if you have very severe arthritis or if youâve already had two or three knee replacement surgeries.
  • Cartilage restoration: Sometimes when the knee only has an isolated area of injury or wear this area can be replaced with a living cartilage graft or cells which grow into cartilage.

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Possible Benefits Of Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Regardless of whether a traditional total knee replacement or a minimally-invasive partial knee replacement is performed the goals and possible benefits are the same: relief of pain and restoration of function.

The large majority of total knee replacement patients experience substantial or complete relief of pain once they have recovered from the procedure. The large majority walk without a limp and most dont require a cane, even if they used one before the surgery. It is quite likely that you know someone with a knee replacement who walks so well that you dont know he even had surgery!

Frequently the stiffness from arthritis is also relieved by the surgery. Very often the distance one can walk will improve as well because of diminished pain and stiffness. The enjoyment of reasonable recreational activities such as golf, dancing, traveling, and swimming almost always improves following total knee replacement.

How To Prevent Blood Clots After Hip And Knee Surgery

To prevent the occurrence of a blood clot, your doctor will likely prescribe a combination of treatment approaches for you, which may include: 1 Exercise/physical therapy beginning the first day after surgery and continuing for several months 2 Compression stockings 3 Anti-clotting medicine to reduce the bodys ability to form blood clots

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What Is The Meniscus Tear Recovery Time Without Surgery

Ordinarily, youll be asked to reduce your sports activities while your meniscus tear heals. This could take about 4 8 weeks. However, the time depends on the severity and position of the tear. During this period, you should do strength training to strengthen your core and glute muscles. This enables you to have better control of your femur while you run.

Remember to consult your doctor before you resume full athletic activities. You should also have another imaging test to help confirm that your meniscus has been fully restored.

What The Procedure Is Like

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Also called arthroplasty, knee replacement is a procedure to resurface the damaged parts of your knee that have been causing you pain.

The knee is the meeting place for three basic bones: the tibia and femur meet at the joint and are each capped with cartilage to absorb the shock of everyday movement. Resting between them is a freestanding bone called the patella . Often using a spinal anesthetic like an epidural used in childbirth a knee replacement procedure involves an incision over the knee that allows your surgeon to resurface the tibia, femur, and patella with metal and plastic components to restore the cushioning you need to move your knee comfortably.

There are two general kinds of knee replacement surgery: partial and total.

In a partial knee replacement , only a portion of the knee joint is replaced. This procedure may be recommended for patients who have damage limited to just one area of the knee. Because a partial knee replacement is done through a smaller incision, the recovery time in the hospital is often shorter and people can resume their usual activities sooner. However, more surgery may be needed in the future if other parts of the knee become damaged.

Your surgeon will discuss which type of surgery is right for you based on your medical history and risk factors.

While patients will need help in the first weeks after surgery, most people will get their feet under them and regain independence at about six weeks after the procedure.

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Average Recovery Process: The Months After Knee Surgery

A knee replacement surgery is a major procedure that comes with a great deal of healing and assistance from friends and family. Getting a sufficient amount of rest and sleep after surgery is essential in the recovery process, but in our experience many patients have more questions and concerns about what their post-op experience will be like.

Every patient has a different healing process based on their body and how they react to the surgery, but a few factors remain the same across the board. Based on patient questions, concerns, and average healing times, weve compiled information that you can use to plan for your post-up recovery.

What Causes A Hyperextended Knee

Hyperextension of the knee usually occurs due to a direct blow to the knee or by anything that forces the knee joint to bend too far backward. Common causes of a hyperextended knee include

  • Car accident: During a car accident when the knee may be forcefully impacted.
  • Falling: Falling when the foot is caught.
  • Landing hard: Landing incorrectly after a jump or unbalanced landing.
  • Jumping on the back: When someone jumps on a persons back suddenly without warning, it can cause the person to be off-balance, resulting in a hyperextended knee.
  • Skiing: If a skier crashes on a snowbank, their body will continue to move forward while the feet are fixed, leading to a hyperextended knee.
  • Sports: A hyperextended knee may be caused during sports that involve
  • Extreme contact at high speeds such as football, soccer, skiing, or lacrosse.
  • Flexibility and landing such as gymnastics.
  • Quick changes in direction and leaping such as basketball.
  • Sudden deceleration: Stopping suddenly when running keeps the momentum of the body moving forward while the feet are fixed, causing the knee to bend backward.
  • Tackle: Leg tackle or tackling the front of the knee that pushes the knee backward.
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    When To Call Your Surgeon

    • a temperature of 101.6 F or higher
    • a sudden increase in drainage, draining lasting more than five days after your surgery, or drainage that is yellow in color or foul-smelling
    • severe discomfort, fatigue or pain
    • severe swelling that does not improve each day
    • blisters around your incision
    • any change in movement such as new weakness, firmness in your calf muscle or inability to move as usual
    • any questions or concerns

    Do I Need A Knee Brace

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    Knee braces after simple arthroscopic knee surgery are rarely used. However, if your surgery involves more than just removal of torn cartilage or meniscus – for example, if you have a meniscal repair – your knee may be placed in a brace after surgery. If you have a neoprene sleeve for your knee that you used before surgery and desire to use it after surgery, do not begin wearing it until your wounds have completely stopped draining. If you use a neoprene sleeve, be sure to take it off for several hours a day to allow your skin to breathe.

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    Mistakes Runners Make That Can Cause Knee Injuries

    For runners, avoiding knee injury is an important consideration while training.

    The most common reason for knee injuries in runners is increasing the distance too quickly, warns Brian Schulz, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. Generally, it is recommended to increase distance 10 percent or less per week.

    How Long Does It Take To Recover From Knee Replacement Surgery

    Having a knee replacement is not easy on your body. It can take each person a different period of time to heal after such a surgery, so your doctor might not be able to tell you exactly how long it will take you to recover from knee replacement surgery.

    However, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons reports several important recovery milestones and the time it often takes to reach them. They reveal that many patients will be able to return to most normal activities within about three months. Yet, they also warn that it can take between six months to a year to fully recover your knee strength and endurance.

    Physical therapists can help you address several important factors that can impact how long it takes you to recover from knee replacement surgery. They can do so by creating a pre- and post-surgical rehab plan thats unique to your needs.

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    When Can I Drive

    You can drive as soon as you feel comfortable, but YOU MUST NOT DRIVE IF YOU ARE TAKING NARCOTICS! If you drive a standard transmission vehicle and had surgery on your left knee, you should wait one week before driving to avoid causing more pain/irritation from operating the clutch. If you need to drive long distances within two weeks after your surgery, you should take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk for 10 minutes per hour to decrease the risk of a blood clot forming.


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