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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ask the Doctor - What questions should I ask before total knee replacement surgery?

Question: What questions should I ask before total knee replacement surgery?


Before opting for total knee replacement, have a frank discussion with your doctor about what surgery entails and what to expect before and after the procedure. Knee replacement is often necessary when severe arthritis or an injury negatively affects the knee joint causing pain and limited mobility. Some questions to consider include:

  1. Are there any nonsurgical treatments to try first? Have you already tried various medications or injections to alleviate pain? Have you attempted physical therapy? If the answer is 'yes', then surgery may be your best option.
  2. What does the procedure entail? Knee Arthroplasty, or replacement surgery, involves removing the damaged portion of the joint and replacing it with artificial implants, or prosthetics. While under general anesthesia, your doctor will insert the prosthetic via small incisions. There are many options for replacement joint, and your doctor will decide which is best suited to your age, weight, and activity level.
  3. How long will I stay in the hospital, and what kind of pain will I experience? A typical hospital stay will last two to three days. You will be given medication for your pain as needed, and you may also wear support stockings to control swelling. Patients often describe an aching sensation near the incision as the most uncomfortable pain afterwards.
  4. When will my physical therapy begin? If there are no complications, your therapy will begin the day after surgery. You will have a walker or crutches to help you get around. Your therapist will show you how to get up and down from lying in bed as well as perform everyday functions such as climbing stairs or getting in and out of cars. Therapy will last for several months in order to regain strength in your knee. Your doctor and therapist will create a specific plan for you with exercises to do at home as well as at a therapy facility.
  5. How should I prepare my house for when I come home afterwards? Make sure that you have help with you for the first few days back. You don't want to fall and risk further injury. Removing small rugs, cords, and clutter will ensure you have clear walking paths. Arranging to stay on the ground floor of your home, if possible, is also a good idea for a while.

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