Is there a Way to Avoid Surgery?
There are treatments with which you can experiment to improve your knee without having to resort to surgery. For some people, this may eliminate the need for surgery altogether, or at the very least, delay the need for a replacement. Lifestyle modifications are one such avenue. Physical therapy can be very helpful. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and prolotherapy (injecting fluid to strengthen the connective tissue) have been beneficial for some. There are some procedures that may help as well, such as steroid or hyaluronic acid injections or surgeries to correct damaged cartilage.
It is important to remember knee replacement surgery has a very high rate of success, with 90 to 95 percent of people getting a good result.
When Is the Best Time to Get a Knee Replacement?
There really is no idea time to get a knee replacement. If you have been trying non-surgical interventions, such as canes, medications or therapy, and you are finding it difficult to perform daily activities, like walking, it may be time to consider a knee replacement. You should make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss your situation. If you really believe you need a knee replacement, you should not delay or you may increase the chance of an unfavorable outcome further down the line.
What Happens During the Surgery?
During the surgery, your surgeon will make an incision on the top of your knee to expose the damaged area. The incision may be anywhere from 4 to 10 inches long. Your kneecap is moved aside, and the damaged bone and cartilage is removed, and replaced by artificial components. They form a joint that mimics the normal movements of a real knee. The surgery usually lasts between 90 minutes and two hours.
What Activities Can I Participate In?
Within several days, you should be able to engage in everyday activities such as walking and bathing, albeit with extra care. Your rehabilitation period will last about six to 12 weeks, and after this time, you should be able to participate in low impact exercise. Running, jumping, bicycling in hilly areas and other high impact activities are not appropriate. During your rehabilitation period, be sure to talk to your physical therapist before introducing any new activities into your daily regimen. This period is crucial for optimal recovery, and your knee is still quite fragile. Inappropriate activity or care could delay recovery, or lead to a less than optimal outcome.
As for work, you typically need at least four weeks recovery, even if you have a job where you sit much of the time. If you have a more strenuous type of job, you will need longer. You will need to discuss this with your doctor.
How Long Does a Knee Replacement Last?
Research has shown that more than 85 percent of people still have a functioning joint 20 years after their procedure. The amount of wear and tear over time can affect the performance and lifespan. Sometimes a revision may be necessary, and this is more likely if you received the replacement at a younger age.