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FAQs: Knee Replacement Surgery

Below, we address some common questions about pain management and provide insights into what you can anticipate when scheduling an appointment.

When should I see an orthopedist for my knee pain?

If you experience difficulty standing, pain when bending your knee, discomfort while walking or climbing stairs, or notice swelling or bruising around your knee, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with an orthopedist specializing in knee care.

What types of non-surgical treatments do you offer?

Rely on our team to prioritize non-surgical treatments as the initial approach to care. Depending on your specific condition, your doctor may recommend:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Reduce swelling, pain, or joint stiffness.
  • Casts, splints, or braces: Protect and support bones, ligaments, tendons, and tissues.
  • Custom orthotics: Provide personalized foot support.
  • Injections: Deliver medication directly to an affected area; ultrasound-guided injections are available at some locations.
  • Steroid injection: Reduce inflammation in and around your joint.
  • Nerve block: Relieve severe, chronic pain by injecting a local anesthetic and steroid to an affected nerve.
  • Viscosupplementation (hyaluronic acid injection): Deliver a gel-like lubricating fluid to your joint to help it move more smoothly.
  • Physical therapy: Teach you gentle exercises to help reduce pain, increase your range of motion, and move more comfortably.

What types of orthopaedic surgery do you offer for knees?

    • Knee replacement: Remove damaged knee tissue and replace it with an artificial knee joint.
    • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction: Replace your torn anterior cruciate ligament.
    • Meniscus repair: Mend the cartilage that cushions the space between the bones in your knee.
    • Meniscus transplant: Place a new, donor meniscus in your knee.
    • Osteoarticular Transfer System (OATS) cartilage repair surgery: Exchange damaged cartilage for healthy cartilage from another area of your knee.
    • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) reconstruction: Replace your torn posterior cruciate ligament.

How long will I stay in the hospital after surgery?

You will typically remain in the hospital for up to one day after surgery, contingent upon your progress with physical therapy. Once you can walk longer distances and show consistent improvement, you will be discharged to go home.

When can I take a shower or bathe?

Most patients typically shower on the day following surgery while still in the hospital. Upon returning home, you may require a shower seat and a hand-held showerhead to facilitate comfortable and safe bathing. Your surgeon may also advise you to cover your incision while bathing.

How often will I see my surgeon after surgery?

Your surgeon will oversee your care during your hospital stay. You can expect to see your surgeon, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner multiple times while recovering in the hospital. Additionally, you will have follow-up appointments at the orthopaedic clinic scheduled for one, two, and six weeks after surgery.

How will I know if my incision is infected?

After surgery, it is common to observe discolored skin, swelling, and drainage around your incision site, which are normal occurrences. However, if you notice painful redness, unusual swelling, or thick, foul-smelling drainage from your incision, you may be experiencing signs of infection. Additionally, a temperature exceeding 101°F could indicate an infection.

How should I sleep at night to keep my knee comfortable and safe?

Placing a pillow between your legs should help keep your knee comfortable and stable. You may sleep on your back or on either side, depending on what makes you most comfortable.

Why must I take antibiotics for dental work or other procedures?

Taking antibiotics is a precaution to help ensure that your new artificial joint does not become infected. Additional surgeries or dental work increase the chances of infection. Regardless of where the infection originates, if it spreads to your new knee, the consequences could be severe. When artificial joints become infected, they must be surgically removed and replaced. Please inform your dentist or physician that you’ve had joint replacement surgery. This is crucial regardless of the size or simplicity of the dental procedure.

How long does it take to make a complete recovery?

Recovery is a gradual process. Walking and physical therapy exercises will help speed your recovery.

Six weeks: Most patients can participate in almost all daily activities.

Three months: Joint replacement patients typically regain the strength and endurance they had before surgery.

Six months: Most patients can expect a full recovery, contingent upon the type of surgery, their overall health, and the success of their rehabilitation.

When can I return to work?

Returning to work is highly dependent on the type of work you do, as well as your own progress in recovery. If you have an office or desk job, you can expect to return after four to six weeks. For more physically demanding jobs that involve lifting, extensive walking, or travel, you might need up to three months to fully recover. Your surgeon will inform you when you can return to work and if there are any limitations.

When can I drive?

Patients may not drive while taking any pain medications which impair driving skills. Check with your provider regarding this.

What activities should I avoid after surgery?

It’s important to keep your new joint moving, but you should return to normal activities gradually. Your joint replacement care team will instruct you to avoid specific positions that could stress your new joint. Avoid high-impact activities, and consult your surgeon before starting a new exercise routine or engaging in physically demanding sports.