As knee replacement physical therapy specialists, we know that your knee is one of the most important joints in your body. Knees are vital for activities such as walking, running and climbing stairs. Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure to replace an arthritic or damaged knee with a prosthetic joint.
A knee replacement, as the name implies, is performed to restore or improve the surfaces of a person's knee joint rather than the entire structure. The surrounding tissues and tendons are left in place. It reminds me of a dentist replacing a filling on a tooth: We're putting new caps on the bones instead of removing them.
Knee replacement surgery generally lasts one to two hours. It's usually done using regional anesthesia, such as an epidural block. This implies that only the surgical area is numbed. Many patients want some medicine to help them relax and put them into a light sleep. Over 90 percent of patients are able to go home within 24 hours, but after that you may want to know what life will be like with your new knee. Here's what I tell my patients about their future..
Following surgery, the staff at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates encourages patients to get up and start walking right away. That's because there will be a lot of swelling and inflammation, so moving the joint is essential to avoid it from becoming frozen.
After knee replacement surgery, physical therapy is critical. We have a program at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates that allows patients to do PT virtually at home. A therapist provides you with workouts to follow and may give you video feedback via web conference. This was an option available from Princeton Orthopaedic Associates long before the COVID-19 epidemic, but we've taken it to a new level now and it's fantastic. If you'd rather meet with a physical therapist in person, you can do so.
The vast majority of patients are well on their way to recovery after six weeks and feeling close to normal three months following surgery. Minor pains and aches can persist for a time.
Depending on the type of knee replacement you have, your rehabilitation time will vary. For at least a few weeks, you'll need to walk with a cane. Returning to work might take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months; however, it is most often around two weeks long.
For the first four to six weeks following surgery, therapy will concentrate on regaining movement. Many people have atrophied or limited muscles due to inactivity, particularly if they had kept restricted activities for a long time. Because they may take longer to recuperate, it's critical to continue an exercise program that emphasizes strength building.
There are very few long-term limitations after knee replacement surgery. Long-distance running, in particular, is something we urge my patients to avoid. It has a lot of force on your knee and is high impact and repetitive. Other kinds of physical exercise and sports are quite safe. What matters most is that you avoid doing anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Because it compresses the joint and applies direct pressure to it, some individuals are concerned about kneeling. Kneeling is fine if you don't mind it, but if it makes you uncomfortable, consider placing a cushion beneath your knee, especially if you're kneeling on a hard surface.
The major reason we impose limits on your activities is that we want your implants to endure a lifetime. It's more crucial for you to obey these guidelines if you're younger, for example, than if you're older, in your 40s or 50s. We don't have a specific time limit for these implants, but most knee replacements typically survive at least 20 to 30 years. Our goal, however, is for them to endure a lifetime.
It's as important to prepare for surgery as it is to recover afterward. A little planning can go a long way. We take a variety of measures both before and after surgery at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates in order to help our patients heal faster. For example, we provide customized programs to assist people in shedding pounds and quitting smoking before surgery since research has shown that they can aid with recovery. Before knee surgery, we help patients strengthen muscles around the knee that may be weakened, allowing them to recover more effectively. We also give extremely individualized assistance to those suffering from sleep apnea, rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases that might impede recovery.