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A Few Things To Know About Having Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery may be needed if your knee joint is so painful that you find it difficult to walk and continue your normal activities. The surgery is done to repair the knee joint after an injury or from damage caused by arthritis. If you haven't found relief from other forms of treatment, then a knee replacement might end your pain. Here are some things to know about having this procedure done.

A Hospital Stay Is Required

You'll probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days after your surgery until you have recovered enough to go home. Being inactive from the anesthesia and pain puts you at a higher risk of developing a blood clot or pneumonia. Your doctor will want to monitor you for these conditions and also watch that your incision is healing and there are no other complications. You'll also be encouraged to be as active as possible even though your movement will be limited at first. Once you have recovered enough, you may be discharged to your home if you have someone to care for you or you'll go to a rehab center to finish your recovery.

The Surgery Involves Metal And Plastic Implants

When you have osteoarthritis, the cushioning in your knee joint becomes severely damaged. With less cushioning, it becomes very painful to walk. The damaged knee tissue is removed during surgery and replaced with the artificial joint material. The plastic implant replaces the cushioning so the metal implants glide with ease. You'll have a metal implant cemented to the bone below your knee joint and another attached to the bone in your thigh. You might also have your kneecap reshaped or reinforced with plastic if needed.

Physical Therapy Starts Right Away

Physical therapy is very important after knee replacement surgery. You may use a continuous passive motion machine for your knee initially. Your leg rests on the machine and it slowly moves back and forth to bend and stretch your knee joint. This keeps the joint limber when it has a tendency to stiffen from swelling after the surgery. The slow, steady movement of your leg may help with swelling and improve circulation to help with healing. You might start physical therapy as soon as the day after your surgery. Your therapist will teach you how to stand, transfer to a chair, and take steps with a walker or cane. You'll walk short distances and gradually increase the time you walk. Your physical therapist also teaches you exercises that strengthen your knee. You'll do these in the hospital, as an outpatient once you're released, and at home on your own.

Recovering from knee replacement surgery will take weeks. You won't be able to walk and take care of yourself very well at first, so you'll need a caregiver to assist you. You'll also need to set up your home for a safe recovery by removing tripping obstacles and installing an elevated toilet and grab bars. As your knee gets stronger, you'll resume more and more of your usual activities, but you may never be able to engage in high impact activities again. You may need to switch to swimming or cycling so you can exercise without damaging your new joint.

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