Knee replacement surgery can be a significant step toward a more active lifestyle, even if that just means getting back to a lifestyle you once enjoyed. However, since you are replacing something in your body, it is easy enough to be overwhelmed and forget to ask some important questions about the surgery, recovery time, and what to expect in the future.
There are different options when it comes to knee surgery. As expected, the options correlate with the issue being treated. In some cases, surgeons can remove, replace, or realign affected areas. However, when it has already been decided that the best choice is total knee replacement, there are still options within that category. There are “off the shelf” knee replacements, and then there are customized replacements. With an off the shelf replacement, your surgeon chooses an implant from a series of 6-10 sizes that most closely matches your anatomy, and makes your knee fit into the implant. With a ConforMIS customized knee implant, CT imaging of your anatomy is used to create an implant that fits the specific size and shape of your knee.
What are the Potential Complications?
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers up a few scenarios for potential complications. One of the best ways to avoid initial complications is to keep all of your medical professionals informed about all of your health needs. This way, medication and movement restrictions can be addressed before the surgery even begins. In all surgeries, including knee replacement surgery, the following complications are possible:
· Blood clots
· Pain after surgery
· Vessel or nerve injury
· Discovery of other issues requiring more treatments or surgeries later on
· Anesthesia risks
Most of these complications can be avoided by following the advice of your orthopedic surgeon. You may be tempted to do more or less of what they say, but it is important to follow their advice, which is offered knowing your exact needs and medical issues.
What Happens After Surgery?
Immediately after any surgery, you may experience some pain and swelling which can be addressed by the proper medications. You may also experience limited movement. Expect to undergo physical therapy and a gradually increasing range of movement.
It can be very helpful to have proper medical supplies at home, as well as someone around who can help meet your daily needs. You may need to change and care for bandages. Ask your doctor about crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair. You may need to have furniture moved in your house to allow you more room or easier access to meet your needs. Consider purchasing a shower chair and non-slip features to make bathing easier and safer. You should also avoid driving as your pain medication may prevent this from being a safe activity. Remove all loose rugs and other elements that might make it easier to trip or lose your balance.
What Results Can I Expect?
The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons states that at least 50% of the recovery expectations between patients and surgeons were not aligned. The hope is always for reduced pain and increased mobility - otherwise, neither you nor your surgeon would even consider the surgery to begin with. However, it is important to speak with your surgeon about your expectations going into surgery. While each person’s expectation and recovery timeline is different, when you talk to your surgeon, he or she can give you a more accurate idea of what you can expect. For example, try to assess your pain and mobility on a scale of 1-10, so that you can pose questions such as “My pain is at a 7 right now, what can I expect it to be after I recover from surgery”. This would ensure that you have a realistic view of the potential results.
If you are interested in learning more about knee replacement, you can use our Surgeon Locator to find a doctor near you.