If nonsurgical treatments like medications and using walking supports are no longer helpful, you may want to consider total knee replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help you resume normal activities. Total knee replacement is often a very successful surgical procedure. A knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) might be more accurately termed a knee “resurfacing” because only the surface of the bones are actually replaced. Usually patients are in hospital for three days and then discharged home. In general, it takes about three months to recover from a knee replacement. There are risks with a total knee replacement such as anesthesia problems, infection, bleeding, nerve damage, blood vessel injury, blood clots in the leg or the lung. In addition, as a total knee replacement does present a physical stress to the body, there is a small risk of problems such as heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, among other medical complications.
Understandably, after a knee replacement surgery extensive physical therapy is required in addition to having the patient be very motivated and diligent about doing a home exercise program. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain medications. A side effect of pain medications is constipation. However, it is important to adequately manage pain after a total knee replacement so that the patient can participate in a physical therapy program. In the first few weeks after knee replacement surgery, patients will be using a walker and then they will transition onto a cane. The decision to have total knee replacement surgery should be a cooperative one between you, your family, your family physician, and your orthopedic surgeon. Please speak with your physician if total knee replacement is an option for you.
How long does the procedure for a total knee replacement take?
A total knee replacement typically takes approximately 60-90 minutes to complete. The total time from when the patient is brought into the operating room, anesthesia is administered, the procedure is completed, and the patient transported back into the recovery room is approximately 2 hours.
How long do total knee replacements last?
There have been multiple studies demonstrating high success rates of over 80% at 20-30 years following a total knee replacement. Loosening of the components can then occur at this time which can cause pain and require a second surgery to revise the components.
How soon can I return to normal activities after total knee replacement surgery?
Within six weeks after a total knee replacement, most patients are able to walk without a cane or a walker. You will probably feel well enough to drive a car within seven to eight weeks after surgery.
In most cases, successful joint replacement surgery will relieve your pain and stiffness, and allow you to resume many of your normal daily activities. Even after you have fully recovered from your total knee replacement, you will still have some restrictions. Normal daily activities do not include contact sports or activities that put excessive strain on your joints.
How old is the average patient that receives a total knee replacement?
In the U.S., the average joint replacement patient is around 60-70 years old, however patients of all ages have received knee implants.