Knee replacement surgery is an operation that involves the replacement of a damaged, or worn-out knee with an artificial joint. The main purpose of this type of knee operation is to relieve pain and restore function to the knee. In today’s article, we’re going to cover the different types of knee surgery and a list of things you can do to prepare for it.
Types Of Knee Replacement Surgery
- Partial (or unicompartmental) knee replacement – May be recommended to people suffering from Osteoarthritis (OA) in a portion of the knee joint. In this case, the damaged portion of the knee is replaced with plastic/metal parts. With a partial, the healing process/time is generally faster and your knee will end up feeling a bit more natural as opposed to a full replacement.
- Total knee replacement – May be recommended to those suffering from an extremely severe case of OA. In the case of a total replacement, both sides of your knees are replaced. In partial replacement, only one side of your knee joint is replaced.
Why Undergo Knee Replacement Surgery?
Your doctor may recommend a knee replacement if:
- You suffer from Osteoarthritis (most common reason for replacement), Rheumatoid arthritis, Post-traumatic arthritis
- You have suffered a severe knee injury that cannot be fixed/healed via other means
- You’re experiencing severe pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joint
- Your mobility is greatly reduced (e.g.: having difficulties running or walking due to a knee injury)
- Your knee pain is preventing you from getting quality sleep
- You’re finding it difficult climbing stairs or getting in and out of chairs
What Happens Before & During Knee Replacement Surgery
Here’s a quick overview on what to expect before and during this operation. (For complete details, visit http://orthoinfo.aaos.org)
- Most people will go through a preoperative and preadmission testing phase, to make sure that they are a good candidate for the surgery. These tests will identify any complications you might have so that necessary actions can be taken (e.g.: you have other health related issues that need to be identified or may be at risk, you take certain medication that may interfere with the operation, etc.). Generally, this testing is done a few weeks ahead of the knee operation.
- The surgeon may suggest exercises to strengthen your legs. These exercises may include straight leg raises, thigh squeezes, heel slides, ankle pumps and circles, chair push-ups, sitting kicks, and knee bends.
- You may be required to attend a class to learn everything about the entire procedure.
- Your surgeon may recommend that you make certain medical adjustments such as stopping certain medications that may interact with those to be used during surgery.
- You are placed under anesthesia before the surgery begins.
- During the procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged or diseased part of the knee joint.
- The bone surfaces are then shaped to hold the plastic (or metal) artificial joint.
- The artificial joint is then attached with cement or a special material.
Tips For Getting Ready
In order to have a successful recovery, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for the knee replacement surgery way ahead of time. Here are a few tips that should help you get ready:
- Practice walking with crutches (or a walker depending on your preference) because once the procedure is complete, you will need one or the other during the recovery process.
- Consider purchasing a post op knee brace for added support, to ease pain, and to speed up recovery. Just make sure you consult your doctor before buying one to make sure it suits your situation. Refer to our post “How Does a Post Op Knee Brace Work?”
- You should consider making some changes in your lifestyle such as cutting down on alcohol or smoking and losing some weight. These may increase the risk of complications or slow the recovery process after the knee replacement surgery.
- Invest in a cold therapy product. These are fantastic products to use during the recovery process. Refer to our post “What is a Cryo Cuff Knee System And Is It Worth It?” for details. (Note: Make sure your doctor is on board with you using this device before buying it.). One popular product (which won’t break the bank) is the Cold Therapy Knee Wrap With Compression by SimplyJnJ:
- Plan ahead of time to make sure that stair-climbing will be kept to a minimum after the surgery. Most of the time, a patient will set themselves up in a room/location where there will be no stair climbing for at least 2-3 weeks and close to a bathroom.
- Get a stable chair with lumbar support and a footstool to elevate your leg.
- Secure the stairway and shower or bath with handrails.
- Have a toilet seat rise with arms installed if you’ve got a low toilet.
- Put away all loose rugs in the house.
- Try to find someone to take care of your pets during the first 2-3 weeks after the operation.
- Remove all clutter in the house to avoid falls.
- Make sure you coordinate a ride to and from the hospital. Unless there are complications, you will most likely leave the same day and will most likely still be groggy from the anesthesia.
Knee replacement surgery has helped a lot knee pain sufferers improve their situation and overall life quality. Just make sure you do the necessary prep work ahead of time to make sure the healing process happens as fast as possible. The last thing you want is an accident around the house. Moreover, making the necessary preparations, especially for recovery, can help speed up the healing process.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to provide medical advice. The information was gathered from people who have undergone surgery and represents a list of “lessons learned”. This is posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Read full disclaimer.
Please go to our SHOP page for a list of available knee braces and other products.