For many people, surgery is a last resort, and with good reason. There are risks associated with surgical procedures, and the recovery process can seem daunting.
However, sometimes it's necessary. If you've already tried exercise, injections, and other treatments to cope with your knee pain, your doctor may recommend a knee replacement.
What Is a Knee Replacement?
The medical term is arthroplasty, and it's done to stop the pain caused by osteoarthritis or other joint damage. Usually, you notice the pain when walking or climbing stairs, but in severe cases you might even feel it when you're not moving at all.
Even then, and despite a doctor's recommendation, some people stay strong in their stance against the surgery, but putting it off when you need it most can lead to additional issues.
The Problem With Avoiding Surgery
Even as kids, we learned that putting things off rarely made them go away: that homework was still due on Friday even if we waited until Thursday to do it! The same is true here. Pushing that surgery into the distant future probably doesn't mean you won't have to have it, and complications can arise if you wait too long.
- The muscles and ligaments can lose their strength and ability to function.
- Deformation can occur at the knee joint.
- You might damage the joint even more, which could make the surgery (when you finally have it) more complicated.
- The weeks and months you spend avoiding surgery will likely be painful; that pain and immobility could prevent you from doing activities you enjoy. This can lead to isolation and depression.
The Benefits of Doing It Now
There's no reason to rush into a surgery, but if your doctor says it's the best option, it's a good idea to get it scheduled. As of 2002, knee replacement was one of the most common orthopedic procedures in the United States.
Aside from avoiding the complications mentioned above, the best reason for getting your knee replacement taken care of is that you can get back to your normal life more quickly. The sooner the procedure is completed, the sooner you can begin your recovery process.
What to Expect
You'll be put under general (or sometimes regional) anesthesia while "...doctors remove the damaged cartilage and replace it with new joint surfaces in a step-by-step process."
After the surgery, you will probably take medications for pain, to prevent infection, and to prevent blood clots. You may be up and walking (slowly and carefully!) the same day. Within a week, you'll return home from the hospital.
The full recovery process needs to be taken seriously. Mayo Clinic recommends the following tips to ensure your successful knee rehabilitation:
- Have access to a walker or crutches, as you will probably need them for a few weeks.
- Get help with daily taskslike bathing and cleaning.
- Care for the woundas instructed by your doctors.
- Avoid stairs. Create a living space on one floor, even if you need to sleep in the living room for a while!
- Install safety bars and handrailsin the bathroom and on any stairs as you start to use them.
- Get a cushioned footstoolso you can elevate your leg.
- Watch for tripping hazards, like cords and rugs.
- Follow all physical therapy and exercise guidelines. This is essential to regain strength and range of motion in your knee. If you keep up with the program, you may be driving again in three weeksand back to your typical daily activities by six weeks. Keep in mind that you might need to continue to avoid high-impact activities like jumping or running.
Planning for Your Rehabilitation After Knee Replacement Surgery
Ideally, a family member can help you during your recovery process, but that has its limitations if the family member is short on time or is not able to carefully follow all instructions. By choosing a short-term rehabilitation facility, you don't have to worry about making progress. This is just a little of what we can offer you during your recovery at Church Home LifeSpring:
- Wound care, so you don't have to worry if you're doing it right!
- Trained professionals who can recognize signs of infection or other complications.
- Experts to guide you through your physical therapy in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure you never miss a day and help you regain strength and mobility as soon as possible.
- Fresh, nutritious meals.
- You don't have to rearrange or make changes to your home to accommodate your recovery.
- Private rooms and baths, with all the assistance you need to dress, bathe, and prepare for the day.
- Fellow residents who are also in the rehabilitation process and can relate to your experience.
If you don't have a friend or family member who can devote the time required to ensure your best possible outcome after knee replacement surgery, we invite you to contact us and come for a visit. We're committed to your recovery in our welcoming, friendly environment.