What expectations can I have with total knee replacement?

Last month we talked about how the prevalence of joint replacement is increasing in the U.S. population. Last year in the U.S. alone, over 700,000 people received new artificial knees.

But when patients meet with Dr. Moore talking about their chronic pain and what they hope to gain with knee replacement, they often don’t know what they can expect from the procedure. What will they be able to do moving forward, for instance?

Let’s get into that in April.

Expectations for your surgery and your new knee

As a patient moves forward toward having knee replacement, Dr. Moore wants his patients to have realistic expectations for these replacements. The human knee is a miracle machine of both function and durability. While today’s artificial replacements are excellent, they still have some limitations.

Over 90 percent of people who have total knee replacement report a dramatic decrease in pain and a significant increase in the ability to perform common activities such as walking. But your artificial knee won’t make your knee superhuman.

With normal use and activity, every knee replacement implant begins to wear in the plastic spacer. Not respecting your new knee speeds up this wear. Placing too much impact or gaining lots of weight can cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful. That’s why the high-impact sports and activities need to be replaced by low-impact or no impact exercises and activities.

But when patients follow their rehabilitation guidelines and do the necessary work on their part the vast majority of our Pinehurst Surgical Orthopaedic knee replacement patients are quite happy with their new knee.

What kinds of activities can I do after I have a knee replacement?

Our knee replacement patients from across the Carolinas are excited by the feeling of freedom after having this surgery. That’s because their knee pain was causing them to have to miss out on more and more activities such as hiking or even walking around the block.

You’ll be walking at just 1 to 3 weeks, but you’ll use a walker. From there you’ll move to crutches, and then a cane. In 4-8 weeks, you should be walking without support.

Many Carolinians equate “activities” with sports. Here are some dos and don’ts moving forward. Again, Dr. Moore stresses these guidelines toward the goal of the longest duration for your new knee.

  • Swimming, cycling, and golf can resume after the surgical wound is healed.
  • Jogging, basketball, and volleyball are likely out, as they put pressure on your new knee and will cause it to wear out more quickly.
  • Tennis should probably change to doubles only, and at a relaxed pace. Or consider switching to pickleball.
  • Downhill skiing, skating, and sports where there is a risk of falling can be resumed, but the patient should have been proficient prior to their surgery, and you need to understand the risks.

Do you have chronic knee pain that’s impeding your life? Call Dr. Moore at Pinehurst Surgical Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement, (910) 295-0224, to schedule a consultation.

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