Knee surgery might seem a little scary at first. It is now a common procedure, however, that can drastically improve the quality of people's lives. Constant pain may become a thing of the past!
If you're considering knee surgery, but aren't sure whether it's the best treatment option for you, or if you simply want a little more information about what is involved, read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about knee surgery.
1. Are there any knee treatment options that will help me avoid surgery?
Before you reach the knee surgery stage, you and your doctor will have tried a variety of other knee treatment options. In some cases, lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or activity modification, can offer positive results. Physical therapy, bracing, medication and injections also have the potential to improve knee pain.
2. Do I have to do anything special to prepare for knee surgery?
It is important that you take care of your overall health leading up to your knee surgery. If you have other issues like diabetes or high blood pressure, it's best to get them under control before undergoing surgery.
You will also have to do a series of exercises to strengthen your quadriceps (the muscles at the front of your thighs.) Strong muscles provide additional support and reduce the amount of time required for recovery.
If you are taking medications for other issues, be sure to let your surgeon know so they can make any necessary adjustments leading up to the surgery.
3. How long will I be in the hospital for my knee surgery?
The length of your hospital stay will depend largely on your specific circumstances and the complexity of your surgery. Many knee operations, especially arthroscopic ones, do not require an overnight stay. More extensive surgery, such as total knee replacement, usually requires one or two nights in the hospital. Only under unusual circumstances is more than a two night stay required.
Regardless of how long your hospital stay is, it's a good idea to have a family member or friend stay with you at your home during the early recovery period so they can help with various household tasks, such as cooking.
4. Do I have to take any special precautions after knee surgery?
The precautions following knee surgery depend specifically upon the individual patient and the specific surgery performed. Your surgeon will always advise you of specific precautions to take following your operation.
There are many general precautions you can expect to follow after surgery to protect your knee. For example, avoid twisting or pivoting on the leg. While lying in bed, keep the knee as straight as possible, and avoid the need to squat or kneel. Limit the number of times you must go up and down stairs, and make sure that your home is clear of any obstacles that could cause a fall. Also, make sure your lovable but over-active pets stay at a distance until your knee has healed.
After your knee surgery you will require physical therapy to speed up your recovery. Your physical therapist, along with your doctor, will provide you with all the information you need to ensure your recovery is successful and you're not putting yourself at risk of injuring your knee.
5. How long will it take me to recover from my knee surgery?
Recovery depends upon the specific type of surgery performed. Patients can typically resume full activity within 2-4 weeks following shorter arthroscopic procedures. After a partial knee replacement, full activity may resume after a month or two. For more extensive procedures, such as total knee replacement, patients typically resuming driving as early as 2-4 weeks following surgery and they resume full activities 2-3 months following the operation.
Full recovery, which means that your knee is at full strength and endurance, can take between six months and a year depending on the state of your health before the surgery and any other medical problems you might have. However, you will be performing normal daily tasks long before that. For example, if you work an office job you can expect to be back to work within six to eight weeks. If your job is more physically demanding it may take three months before you're ready to go back to work.
Most patients can start driving a motor vehicle between two and six weeks after they've had their knee surgery, depending upon when they no longer need narcotic pain medication.
Knee surgery has helped many people improve their lives significantly due to increased mobility and the elimination of the intense pain associated with knee problems. To set up an appointment and explore the options available to you, call us at the Augusta Health Joint Center at (540) 332-5047.