Knee Replacement Recovery: What to Expect

Is a Knee Replacement Right For You?

If you are contemplating a knee replacement, there are likely several factors you are considering in deciding on this type of surgery. You are probably thinking about the procedure itself, the risks, benefits and recovery process. Experiencing chronic pain in the knee and limited range of motion can impact your quality of life and ability to do daily activities. Climbing stairs, getting up from a seated position and even walking can be extremely difficult for someone with arthritis in the knee, a worn out joint or certain knee injuries. For this reason, knee replacement can seem like a great option.

What is a Knee Replacement?

During a knee replacement, an orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision above the knee, replacing damaged bone and cartilage with metal and/or plastic parts. This procedure is fairly common and will typically last for about 15 to 20 years. Patients that undergo a knee replacement can often benefit from an improved quality of life, significant decrease in pain and improved mobility.

What to Expect During Recovery

If you are contemplating a knee replacement, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Once you understand the procedure, you will want to know what to expect in the days, weeks and months after the surgery. The average recovery time for this procedure is six months, however, returning to rigorous physical activity can take up to twelve months for some patients. Age, weight and overall health are factors that can impact recovery timelines. For the first several weeks, you may need assistance walking including the use of a walker or crutches.

One of the risks associated with knee replacement surgery is a developing a blood clot. To help avoid this complication, it is best to try to get up and walk soon after surgery, using assistance or crutches. Wearing compression socks and taking blood thinners after surgery can also decrease the likelihood of a blood clot.

Physical therapy will be a key component of recovery after surgery. This will begin immediately after surgery but the duration and frequency of physical therapy can vary widely from one person to another. Some people will need up to four months of physical therapy while others will not need therapy beyond six or eight weeks.

If you are considering a knee replacement, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with your orthopaedic surgeon. Making a list of questions prior to meeting with your doctor is a great way to assure you get all of the information you need to make an informed decision.


Knee Injuries: Common Orthopaedic Signs and Symptoms

Knee Injuries

Knee Injuries are some of the most common orthopaedic injuries. The knee is a complex joint that supports the entire body and takes on a lot of daily stress. No matter your activity level, weight or age, your knees are susceptible to injury.

Types of Knee Injuries

Some of the most common types of knee injuries include fractures, dislocations, sprains and tears. Ligaments, tendons and the meniscus are components of the knee that can easily sustain an injury. If experiencing knee pain or instability, it is important to get the appropriate diagnosis in order to determine the right course of treatment.

  • Meniscus tears are often the result of a twisting, pivoting or a cutting motion. This is a common sports injury but can also result from arthritis or a fluke motion while trying to get up from a seated position.
  • Knee fractures typically occur from a motor vehicle accident or falling from a significant height. Types of knee fractures include patellar fractures, distal femur fractures and proximal tibia fractures.
  • Tendon tears involving the patellar tendon or the quadriceps tendon are common in people who play sports that involve running and jumping. Direct force to the front of the knee can also result in a tear of one of the knee tendons.
  • Knee dislocations occur when bones of the knee are forced out of place. These injuries can result from sports related contact, a fall, or a motor vehicle accident.
  • Anterior cruciate ligament injuries most often occur while playing a sport such as soccer, football or basketball. The injury typically results from landing incorrectly or changing direction rapidly.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament injuries occur frequently from trauma to the front of the knee, while the knee is bent. This type of injury is common in motor vehicle accidents and sports.
  • Medial collateral ligament injuries are typically contact injuries that are caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee.
  • Lateral collateral ligament injuries are less common as they result from a blow to the inside of the knee, pushing it outwards.

Symptoms and Treatment

With such a variety of injuries that can occur in the knee, it is clear that proper evaluation and diagnosis are key in finding the correct treatment. If you are suffering from knee pain that doesn’t subside or worsens over time, it is important to be evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon. Swelling as well as  inability to bend or straighten the knee are also signs that you may have one of the above injuries. Some injuries will require surgery but others may heal on their own or with physical therapy.