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How Long Should You Wait Between Knee Replacements

Why Some Numbers Are Not Available

Knee Replacement: Why Most Wait Too Long to Have It Done.

If you see sections that say no data, there could be a few reasons why, such as:

  • the number of patients treated is too low to report
  • the service isnt available at the hospital youve selected
  • there were no patients treated during the reporting period
  • the facility is new to reporting and has just started collecting data

Knee Replacement Recovery Exercises

Initially, as you increase your activity the knee can be sore, but with appropriate medication and gentle exercise, your recovery should proceed smoothly.

Well prescribe a set of exercises for you to do at home. Every programme is different, but here are a few exercises we regularly ask patients to do. You should aim for 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise every day:

  • Stair lunges: Stand at the base of the stairs and place your operated foot on the first stair. Lunge forward slowly bending at the knee only as far as is comfortable
  • Bed exercise: Push the knee flat into the bed to fully straighten the leg
  • Mini-squats: Stabilise yourself by holding on to a kitchen bench, door frame or heavy table. Keeping your back straight, lower you buttocks bending, at the knees. Only go as far as is comfortable.

What Is Partial Knee Replacement

A partial knee replacement is an alternative to total knee replacement for some people with osteoarthritis of the knee. This surgery can be done when the damage is confined to a particular compartment of the knee. In a partial knee replacement, only the damaged part of the knee cartilage is replaced with a prosthesis.

Once partial knee replacement was reserved for older patients who were involved in few activities. Now partial knee replacement is often done in younger people as their recovery is quicker and usually less painful. About 5% to 6% of people with arthritic knees are estimated to be eligible for partial knee replacement.

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What Is An Artificial Knee And How Does It Stay In Place

Artificial knee implants consist of metal and medical-grade plastic called polyethylene.

There are two ways of attaching the components to the bone. One is to use bone cement, which usually takes about 10 minutes to set. The other is a cement-free approach, in which the components have a porous coating that allows the bone to grow onto it.

In some cases, a surgeon may use both techniques during the same operation.

Any operation done with anesthesia has risks, although it is rare that severe complications result from any type of anesthesia.

The options for TKR include:

  • general anesthesia
  • spinal or epidural
  • a regional nerve block anesthesia

An anesthesia team will decide on the most suitable options for you but most knee replacement surgery is done using a combination of the above.

Risks Of Shots Before Replacement

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Researchers have looked through large databases of Medicare patients who have undergone knee replacement surgery. They were able to compare patients who had a cortisone shot or viscosupplement injection prior to joint replacement, as well as whether that individual had an infection after surgery. The data clearly demonstrated there was a higher chance of having an infection in people who had an injection before surgery.

Furthermore, the research found that the risk of infection after surgery was strongly correlated with how soon before surgery patients had their most recent shot. If the shot was within seven months of the time of surgery, the risk of complication was significantly higher. If the shot into the joint was administered longer than seven months prior to surgery, there was little difference in the risk of developing an infection after surgery. Therefore, seven months can be used as a guideline, and patients may be told to avoid having injections into a joint for seven months prior to elective joint replacement surgery. However, individual surgeons may have varying approaches to this.

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What Are The Risks

  • An infection at the surgical site is possible. Blood clots are a risk as are injuries to a blood vessel or a nerve. These complications are quite rare.
  • You may experience some knee joint stiffness.
  • Late complications may include infection and a failure or loosening of the prosthesis, as well as continued pain.

What Happens After Total Knee Replacement

Talk with your healthcare provider about what you can expect after your surgery. You may have significant pain around your incision after your procedure, but pain medicines may help to relieve your pain. You should be able to get back to a normal diet fairly quickly.

You may get imaging, like an X-ray, to see the results of the surgery. You might be able to go home within a day or two.

Your provider will let you know when you can put weight on your leg. You may have specific instructions about limiting your movements. You might need to use a cane, walker, or crutches for a few days or weeks. A physical therapist can help you maintain your range of motion and strength. You should be able to go back to most light activities within a few weeks. During this time, you may find it helpful to have some extra help at home.

You might have some fluid draining at the incision site. This is normal. Let your provider know right away if you have an increase in redness, swelling, or draining at the incision site. You should also let your provider know if you have a high fever, chills, or severe pain that does not improve.

Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments with your surgeon. You may need to have your stitches or staples removed a week or so after your surgery.

Most people note a significant decrease in their pain following a total knee replacement. You may have some remaining stiffness in the joint, as well as more limited range of motion.

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Exercise And Physical Activity

The final phase of recovery, as Dr. Parks considers it, is returning to exercises and extra activities, including hiking and biking. It typically takes eight to 12 weeks to get to this phase, he says.

In terms of full knee replacement recovery, patients generally need a year to completely heal and regain total function.

After a couple of years, you forget that youve even had knee surgery, says Barnes, who would go on to have her left knee replaced a year after the surgery on her right. Before surgery I couldnt garden. Now I walk, snow shoe, and climb ladders. I do what I want and dont have pain.

Possible Benefits Of Total Knee Replacement Surgery

How long should I wait before having a Knee Replacement?

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.

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Safety Protocols For Joint Replacement Surgery During The Pandemic

When the time does come for surgery, there are a number of protocols in place at medical facilities around the country to protect against COVID-19.

In addition to hospital staff wearing personal protective equipment and patients wearing masks , one main change is COVID-19 screening and testing for all patients during a specific timeframe before surgery. Different institutions designate different timing, with some facilities, for example, requiring a negative COVID-19 nasal swab within five days of surgery and others conducting the test the day of surgery. In addition, some facilities could require patients to quarantine between pre-surgical evaluation and the day of surgery, says the AAOS.

Whats more, operating rooms are undergoing extensive cleaning between procedures, social distancing is being practiced in waiting areas, and clinicians and personnel are regularly screened for COVID-19, says the AAOS. Your surgeon can explain the exact procedures in place at your facility. Read more from the AAOS about what to expect with an elective orthopedic surgery.

The other big change is restrictions on family members being allowed to accompany patients. In many places these restrictions have become more or less strict as pandemic spikes have risen and fallen. Some facilities allow limited visitation, while others only let loved ones drop off and pick up patients at the front entrance.

Dangers And Risks Of Putting Off Knee Replacement Surgery

Patients often delay knee replacement surgery because of fear of the procedure or concerns about the recovery process. Interestingly, while many people worry about what could possibly happen if they undergo knee replacement surgery, fewer stop to think about what will likely happen if they wait:

  • Increased knee pain
  • Further damage to the joint
  • Reduced mobility and ability to use the knee

Continuing to delay knee replacement surgery can bring about serious consequences, such as the inability to walk, work and perform normal daily tasks.

Knee Replacement Surgery May Be More Complex the Longer You Wait

The longer a patient waits to have knee surgery, the more complicated the surgery can become. Here are some ways the procedure can become more complex when a person delays knee replacement surgery:

  • The knee may become deformed and therefore harder to replace
  • The surgical procedure can take longer
  • Kneecap resurfacing may be required
  • Options may become more limited. For instance, early on, a patient may only need a partial knee replacement, but if they wait, they may need total knee replacement which is a more complex procedure.

Delaying Knee Replacement Surgery May Diminish Health

Make a Knee Replacement Surgery Appointment

Most patients who have had knee replacement surgery not only report positive outcomes including reduced pain or complete freedom from knee pain, many say they would have had knee replacement surgery sooner.

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Recovery From Knee Replacement

Following your operation youll be able to go home when your pain is under control, you can get about safely, and any care you may need has been arranged.

Your wound is likely to take 10-14 days to heal. It may take up to 6 weeks to recover from the operation. It can take up to 12 months before you are back to normal activities.

Why Is My Knee So Tight After Surgery

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Arthrofibrosis is also known as stiff knee syndrome. The condition sometimes occurs in a knee joint that has recently been injured. It can also occur after surgery on the knee, such as a knee replacement. Over time, scar tissue builds up inside the knee, causing the knee joint to shrink and tighten.

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Motivation To Regain Physical Function

And finally, Dr. Courtney sees another factor speeding recovery for certain patients. Motivation is big one, especially with knee replacement surgery, he says. If patients are involved in sports, like golf, tennis, or swimming, their motivation to get back to their activities plays an important role.

Advances In Total Knee Replacement

Not long ago, many people thought that if you had one knee replaced, the pain and rehab would be so taxing you wouldnt want to come back for surgery on the other knee. But with todays advances in surgical techniques, anesthesia and pain management, the recovery for a single knee replacement at a high-volume joint replacement center is much easier and faster than it was in the past. At Hospital for Special Surgery, virtually every patient comes back for the second knee replacement, generally waiting at least three months in between surgeries.

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Recovering From Knee Replacement Surgery

You’ll usually be in hospital for 3 to 5 days, but recovery times can vary.

Once you’re able to be discharged, your hospital will give you advice about looking after your knee at home. You’ll need to use a frame or crutches at first and a physiotherapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your knee.

Most people can stop using walking aids around 6 weeks after surgery, and start driving after 6 to 8 weeks.

Full recovery can take up to 2 years as scar tissue heals and your muscles are restored by exercise. A very small amount of people will continue to have some pain after 2 years.

How Long After Knee Replacement Can I Have Dental Work

Can you wait too long before knee replacement surgery?
After a Couple of Days Can consume Pain control or Narcotic medicines
After three weeks
After Six Weeks Can undergo Dental work

In this piece, well discuss why you should avoid visiting the dentist following surgery for at least six to eight weeks.

So, what exactly is the situation with knee replacement and dental care? There is no definite scientific solution only advice from various organizations. Because we are talking about a relatively tiny number of infections in a very large number of people, doing real scientific research to investigate this topic would be quite challenging even for medical researchers because of recent contradictory signals from several medical and dental bodies

Some doctors recommend having your teeth cleaned and any other dental work completed a few months before your surgery. As following a knee replacement, most surgeons advise avoiding invasive dental procedures for 8-12 weeks, while few of them suggest avoiding dental treatments for two years. This lowers the risk of germs from your bloodstream infecting your new prosthetic knee. An invasive dental operation such as tooth extraction, periodontal procedures, implant insertion, root canal, or preventive cleaning may still pose a danger beyond this time period.

Its true that germs abound in our mouths. As a result, there has always been a fear that germs may enter the circulation during a dental therapy

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An Artificial Meniscus May Soon Be Available

If you are suffering from knee pain following meniscus surgery or are without viable treatment options, the NUsurface®Meniscus Implant may provide an alternative option, once it has approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. NUsurfaces design mimics the function of the natural meniscus and redistributes weight across the knee joint. The implant is made from medical grade plastic and, as a result of its unique materials, composite structure, and design, does not require fixation to bone or soft tissues.

NUsurface can potentially address the treatment gap of those who are too old for meniscus repair and too young for total knee arthroplasty. U.S. clinical trials completed enrollment in June 2018, and the company expects to file for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval soon.

When To Wait When To Rush

From my experience, most adults wait too long to have a knee surgery specifically replacement, said Morgan Nolte, a geriatric physical therapist from Nebraska. The older someone is, the more likely they have multiple co-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and those can complicate recovery.

Lean muscle mass also declines with age, so the physical effort of recovery can seem harder than if the surgery was performed a bit earlier in life, she told Healthline.

Many patients who undergo a knee surgery have reported to me they wished they would have got it earlier for a faster recovery, but also to enjoy more years with less pain, she added.

Dr. Seth S. Leopold, an orthopedic surgeon, professor at the University of Washington and editor-in-chief of the journal Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, said he would take the findings with a large lump of salt.

Both what I see in practice as a high-volume joint replacement surgeon and as the editor of an orthopedic surgery journal suggests to me that if anything, surgeons recommend knee replacement too easily and too often, he said.

The recovery may be slower or less complete if someone waits too long, but thats only the case if they wait way too long, he said.

Patients and doctors should first look at nonsurgical interventions to attempt managing symptoms.

Only if they cant, and only if the pain and limitations are pretty severe, does joint replacement make sense to me, he noted.

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When To Seek Treatment For Your Arthritis

Arthritis doesnt have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commissions Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

Characteristics Of Severe Arthritis Of The Knee

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Pain is the most noticeable symptom of knee arthritis. In most patients the knee pain gradually gets worse over time but sometimes has more sudden flares where the symptoms get acutely severe. The pain is almost always worsened by weight-bearing and activity. In some patients the knee pain becomes severe enough to limit even routine daily activities.


Morning stiffness is present in certain types of arthritis. Patients with morning stiffness of the knee may notice some improvement in knee flexibility over the course of the day. Rheumatoid arthritis patients may experience more frequent morning stiffness than patients with osteoarthritis.

Swelling and warmth

Patients with arthritis sometimes will notice swelling and warmth of the knee. If the swelling and warmth are excessive and are associated with severe pain, inability to bend the knee, and difficulty with weight-bearing, those signs might represent an infection. Such severe symptoms require immediate medical attention. Joint infection of the knee is discussed below.


The knee joint has three compartments that can be involved with arthritis . Most patients have both symptoms and findings on X-rays that suggest involvement of two or more of these compartments for example, pain on the lateral side and beneath the kneecap . Patients who have arthritis in two or all three compartments, and who decide to get surgery, most often will undergo total knee replacement .

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