While any sort of surgery is a big deal, replacing joints is particularly so. This major operation requires lots of preparation and a commitment to rehabilitation for maximum recovery and joint function. If knee replacement surgery may be in your future, here are a few things to know.
Is It Time for Surgery?
One of the first things to consider is whether this measure is appropriate for this point in time, or if there are other measures to consider first.
Are other treatments not providing relief, such as pain medication, going to physical therapy or having lost weight to reduce stress on the knee? Has the pain been increasing? Are you no longer able to do the things you enjoy because the pain is too great, or is it significantly interfering with activities of daily living? Does the pain interfere with sleep? Has your doctor suggested knee replacement?
Questions to Ask Yourself
What do you hope to accomplish from the procedure? Are you hoping to simply relieve pain, or do you want to be able to participate in more physically demanding activities or return to a strenuous job? What sort of coverage do you have with your health plan? When it comes to choosing an orthopedic surgeon, are you able to choose any doctor or facility or are you limited in your options? Do you want to know more about any particular techniques or specific procedures? Would you consider clinical trials or experimental approaches?
Preparing Yourself for Surgery
It is important you properly prepare yourself for the surgery to maximize a positive outcome and recovery. You want your body to be as strong and healthy as possible. Eat a well-balanced diet. Let your doctor know of all medications and supplements you are taking…you may need to reduce dosages of some as the surgery date approaches, or stop taking others completely. Smoking greatly impedes tissue healing, and it is recommended you stop before your procedure, and during your recovery, ideally forever.
Your doctor will likely recommend exercises to strengthen your upper body, and make it easier to get around with crutches or a walker post-surgery. Do them. Having your knee replaced is a major undertaking, and you will be very reliant on others for help afterwards. You may feel a bit helpless, and the recovery process will take a while. There will be some pain. Preparing yourself mentally for this, while focusing on the outcome of better mobility and quality of life, will go a long way.
Ask your doctor about what to do to optimally prepare your home for your recovery.
Recovery is split into short and long-term. Short-term recovery is the phase in which your knee is simply healing from the surgery. This phase usually lasts about six weeks, and the physical therapy you undergo during this time is some of the most crucial. The long-term phase can last anywhere from three to six months, and involves getting back function of your knee, strengthening it and getting back into normal activity.