Knee Replacement Recovery Time Guide
Here we will look at total knee replacement recovery time, including what happens at what stage post-op and how long it typically takes to get back to your usual activity.
If are having or have had only one side of your knee replaced, visit the partial knee replacement recovery time section instead to found out how it will be for you.
Knee replacement recovery time will vary from person to person, and may be affected by:
- Severity of arthritis
- Compliance with exercises pre and post-op
Let’s have a look at a typical knee replacement recovery time process.
What Happens During The Procedure
Most knee replacement surgery is performed under a combination of general anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, and spinal anesthesia. You will also receive at least one dose of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
During the procedure, the surgeon will remove bone and diseased cartilage from where your thigh bone and shin bone meet at your knee joint.
Those surfaces are then replaced with a metal implant. A piece of special plastic is normally used to replace the backside of the kneecap and finally, this same plastic material is placed in between the two metal parts.
This gives both bones of your knee joint smooth surfaces again so they can flex and bend more freely and painlessly.
How Do I Manage Pain During My Recovery
You should consider a number of options for pain relief following knee surgery. These options should be discussed with a pain management specialist, who can explain the pros and cons of each option or combination of options, including effectiveness, potential side effects, potential for addiction, and impact on the recovery process. Physician anesthesiologists who specialize in pain management can work with you before and after surgery on a plan tailored to your condition, personal history, and preferences.
Some of the options to consider and discuss are:
- Analgesics such as acetaminophen . These act solely to relieve pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. These act to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Peripheral nerve blocks. These involve the injection of an anesthetic into specific nerves to block pain signals between the brain and the knee.
- Opioids. These drugs, which block pain signals to the brain, are sometimes necessary to relieve severe or persistent pain, but patients should take them only as needed and use as low a dose as possible. Monitoring by a pain management specialist is important because opioids can be addictive.
- Multimodal therapy. This is commonly used for pain management after knee replacement surgery and typically involves opioids and one or more additional pain relief methods. Multimodal therapy can improve pain control while limiting opioid use.
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What Are The Risks Of Total Knee Replacement
Most people do very well with their minimally invasive total knee replacement. But as with any surgery, the procedure does carry some fairly rare risks. Possible complications of the surgery include:
Loosening of the components of the knee
Limited motion of the knee
There is also a very slight risk that the procedure might not relieve your pain. Your own risk of complications may vary according to your age and your other medical conditions. Ask your provider about the risks that most apply to you.
Johns Hopkins offers in-person educational sessions to help you prepare for knee replacement surgery. During your class, we’ll review important aspects of your care and what to expect before and after surgery. You will be able to ask questions and meet many of the staff who will be caring for you in the hospital.
Outlook For Knee Replacement
While some activities are off-limits after a knee replacement, you still have plenty of others to choose from. Unlimited walking, golf, light hiking, cycling, ballroom dancing, and swimming are all safe for most people with knee implants. By following your doctor’s guidelines, you can expect long-lasting results — about 85% of knee replacements will last 20 years.
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Looking After Your Knee Replacement
Your new knee will continue to improve for as much as two years after your operation as the scar tissue heals and you exercise your muscles. You’ll need to look after yourself and pay attention to any of the following problems:
Stiffness Sometimes the knee can become very stiff in the weeks after the operation for no obvious reason. Try placing your foot on the first or second step of the stairs, hold on to the banister and lean into your knee. This should help to improve movement and flexibility in your knee. Its very important to continue with the exercises you were working on in the hospital.If the stiffness doesnt improve after about six weeks your surgeon may need to move or manipulate your knee. This will be done under anaesthetic.
Pain Pain caused by bruising from the operation is normal in the first two months, and you’ll probably still need to take painkillers at six weeks to help you sleep through the night. You may still have some pain for as long as six months. If you still have pain after this, speak to your physiotherapist or GP.
Infection You should speak to your GP or hospital if you notice any signs of infection, for example:
- breakdown of the wound with oozing/pus or sores
- increased pain
- redness and the affected area feeling warmer than usual or smelling unpleasant.
You should also look after your feet see a doctor or podiatrist if you notice any problems such as ingrown toenails that could become infected.
When Can I Get Back To My Everyday Activities After Knee Arthroplasty
Your doctor will give you specific instructions. But many people can get back to their everyday activities three to six weeks after surgery.
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions about recovery. You will gradually increase activity, starting with a slow walking program. You will be encouraged to stand, climb stairs and perform other normal household activities as soon as possible.
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What Happens During Knee Arthroplasty
The day of surgery, you will receive anesthesia to prevent pain during the operation. You will have either a regional or general anesthetic. Your anesthesia team will decide what type of anesthesia is right for you.
Knee arthroplasty takes about an hour or two. The surgical team will:
- Make an incision in the knee area.
- Remove any damaged cartilage and bone.
- Place the knee implant and position it properly.
- Secure the implant into place using cement or without cement.
- Insert a piece of polyethylene that creates a smooth, gliding surface between the metal parts of the implant.
- Close the incision.
Surgery Recovery And Beyond
Flash forward to January 31, 2017surgery day. In hospital, everything went according to plan. Allan was out of bed the day after surgery and the following day was able to climb stairs and work through physical therapy. He had surgery on Tuesday and was discharged straight home on Thursdayin just over 48 hours. Even Allan was surprised at how seamless everything went, My hospital experience went way better than imaginable. I was imagining worse things. I was worried about the spinal injection, but again, it wasnt as bad as anticipated.
Tuesday morning I went in and by Thursday afternoon, I was out. I was surprised by the speed. I put that down largely to the daily PeerWell exercises.
But how has recovery been since Allan went home? He shares the mantra that he seems to abide by when overcoming lifes obstacles, no gain without pain. He puts it honestly, It was a bit grueling. Since Ive been home, I wasnt feeling too goodsickly because of pain medication. Ive been restless because I wasnt sleeping well. But over the last day or so , I am feeling like my old self.
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Risks Of Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery is a common operation and most people do not have complications. However, as with any operation, there are risks as well as benefits.
Complications are rare but can include:
- stiffness of the knee
- infection of the joint replacement, needing further surgery
- unexpected bleeding into the knee joint
- ligament, artery or nerve damage in the area around the knee joint
- persistent pain in the knee
- a break in the bone around the knee replacement during or after the operation
In some cases, the new knee joint may not be completely stable and further surgery may be needed to correct it.
Similar Conditions That Affect The Knee
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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What Happens After Knee Arthroplasty
After surgery, you will get moved to a recovery room. The healthcare team will watch you for a short time to make sure you wake up from the anesthesia without complications. Theyll also monitor your vital signs and pain level.
Occasionally, people who have knee replacement surgery go home the same day. If you need to stay in the hospital, it will likely be for one day. Additional time spent in the hospital is based on medical necessity.
Orthopedic Doctors For Knee Replacement In Kansas City
Here at Midwest Orthopaedics, serving Kansas City and the surrounding region, we have a staff of skilled orthopedic doctors who routinely perform joint replacement surgeries, including knee replacement, hip replacement, and shoulder replacement. We are here with you every step of the way, from consultation to recovery and beyond.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our world-class orthopedic physicians, contact our caring staff today by calling us at 362-8317 or by filling out our easy-to-use appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping you get back to the active lifestyle you love!
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Knee Replacement Recovery Continues Once Youre Home
Even though hospital stays for knee replacement surgery are shorter than they used to be, getting back on your feet still takes time, says Dr. Parks.
The next phase of recovery continues at home, as patients begin acclimating to normal activities, such as moving between rooms, getting up and sitting down in furniture, and using the bathroom. While everyone is different, many patients are likely to have similar experiences during the early weeks of recovery.
For Barnes, stability was a big issue. I became very aware of where I was placing feet, for example, when stepping off a curb. I just felt a little clumsy early on after surgery so I was afraid of falling.
In addition, she experienced a lot of swelling. The hospital gave me a special brace that circulates cold water around the knee, which was great and helped with swelling, she says.
Whether your doctor has prescribed formal outpatient physical therapy or has entrusted you with an at-home regimen of walking and exercises, patients progressing through recovery achieve some big milestones along the way.
How Do I Get Ready For Total Knee Replacement
Ask your provider how you should plan to get ready for your surgery.
Tell your provider about any medicines you are taking, including:
All prescription medicines
Over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen
Herbs, vitamins, and other supplements
Ask if there are any medicines you should stop taking ahead of time, like blood thinners.
If you smoke, try to quit before your surgery.
If you are overweight, your provider may advise you to try to lose weight before your surgery.
Donât eat or drink after midnight the night before your procedure.
You may want to make some changes to your house, to make your recovery smoother. This includes things like adding a handrail in your shower.
In some cases, your provider might want additional tests before you have your surgery. These might include:
X-rays, to get information about your hip
MRI, to get more detailed information about your hip
Electrocardiogram , to make sure your heart rhythm is normal
Follow any other instructions from your healthcare provider.
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Which Type Should I Have
Your surgeon will discuss this with you. It will depend on how much of your knee is affected by arthritis – it may not be possible to know this until your surgeon has started your operation.
If you have a partial knee replacement it is more likely that you will need to have it done again, than if you have a total knee replacement . Sometimes the reason for choosing to have a partial knee replacement is that it leaves the option to have a TKR at a later date. However it’s also more likely that you will need to have your total knee replacement re-done, if you had a partial knee replacement done before having your total knee replacement.
There are over 150 different designs of knee replacement and some of the differences between all the different types and makes of knee replacement parts aren’t known, particularly how they perform in the long term. In many countries, registries have been set up so that anyone who has had a knee replacement is entered into the register. The information collected is used to monitor how their replacement is performing. In the UK, patients also enter information about their health and quality of life before and after their operation.
A study of over 500 patients with osteoarthritis of the inner part of their knee has compared the effectiveness of total and partial knee replacement. The two groups were followed up five years after surgery, and asked to complete questionnaires about pain, activity and day-to-day living.
What Can I Expect At Hss
Hospital for Special Surgery has been at the forefront of modern knee replacement since the operation was first introduced in the late 1960s. We have led the field ever since in a number of ways:
- : HSS has been ranked the No. 1 hospital for orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report for 11 years straight.
- Along with high rankings in patient satisfaction, HSS performs the most knee replacements with the lowest reported infection rates in the United States.
- Research and advancement: Smaller incisions, new implant materials and design, and sophisticated instrumentation have been â and continue to be â the areas of expertise of the hip and knee replacement surgeons of the HSS .
- HSS routinely uses the latest surgical techniques and technology, such as robotic-assisted and computer-assisted surgery.
- : Isolating the anesthesia to a particular body area helps avoid the potential problems that may accompany a general anesthetic. These techniques have been developed and refined by the HSS . Learn more about
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What Is Partial Knee Replacement Surgery
Partial knee replacement is where the bone surfaces of only compartment of the knee joint are removed and replaced with implants or resurfaced, while the bone surfaces of other compartments as well as unaffected cartilage and other soft tissues are preserved.
Patients with unicompartmental knee arthritis have cartilage degeneration in only one section or compartment of the knee. In cases where nonsurgical techniques do not provide symptom relief, surgeons can remove damaged cartilage and bone in the diseased area only, while preserving the ligaments that help support the knee joint, explains , Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at HSS.
A prosthesiswhich may also be called an implanttakes the place of the damaged area of the knee, leaving the other compartments intact.
Over the past 15 years, improvements in surgical techniques and instrumentation have made partial knee replacement a viable option for a growing number of patients in fact, recent data suggests that anywhere from 10 to 15% of all patients with osteoarthritis of the knee may be eligible for the procedure.
Providing Better After Care For Patients
We’re funding research which aims to provide a standardised approach and assessment for virtual clinic follow-up of total joint replacement patients and subsequent management of patients identified as ‘at risk’ by this approach. This study would enable us to deliver better and more streamlined after care for patients.
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How It Differs From A Partial Knee Replacement
Unlike a partial knee replacement, which involves replacing only a section of the joint, a total knee replacement involves the removal of the entire joint. A knee replacement is one of the most commonly performed joint replacement surgeries in the US, with over 700,000 knee replacements done each year.
How Do I Know If I Need Knee Replacement Surgery
You may need surgery if:
- Your knees are stiff and swollen.
- There is pain throughout the day, even at rest.
- Walking, getting up or climbing stairs is difficult and painful.
- Medication and therapy do not offer enough relief.
- Knee cartilage is so damaged and worn away that you are walking “bone on bone,” in which the bones of the joint are scraping together.
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