When considering a knee replacement, you’re likely to hear a wide range of stories, both good and bad. Some people have no issues healing, while others seem to deal with a longer recovery. As you begin your journey, be aware of these concerns and look for the best knee replacement surgeons for optimal results.
Partial vs. Total Knee Replacement
If you’ve been having issues with your knees, your doctor may recommend a knee replacement. They will suggest either a partial or total replacement. The decision is based on where the pain is located and which areas of the knee are affected.
A total knee replacement replaces all the ligaments and cartilage in the knee in each of the three compartments: the medial, lateral, and patellofemoral. Partial replacement only replaces the components in the affected compartment, which is usually the medial or inside of the knee.
A partial replacement is considered less invasive. Many patients can be up and walking around in just a few days with a shorter recovery time over a total replacement. Both types of surgeries can result in issues for the patient to be aware of.
Common Short-Term Problems After Knee Replacement
You can expect some issues with a knee replacement regardless of whether it was partial or tidal. You can expect to have some pain for several days to a few weeks after the surgery. If you were experiencing severe pain before the knee replacement, you may not feel that the pain is worse than what you endured before the surgery. The doctor will prescribe pain medication to keep the pain manageable. They will likely recommend light exercises to help you start moving, which can alleviate some of the pain.
Numbness is another common issue from this type of surgery. When the nerves around the skin in the knee are cut, it can result in loss of feeling or numbness. Numbness can have a minimal effect on the quality of life of patients following the surgery.
You should expect swelling around the knee after surgery. This will begin to subside after a few days to a couple of weeks. The doctor may recommend compression bandages to help reduce swelling of the knee. Exercise can help get rid of the excess fluid as long as you don’t overdo it.
Stiffness could also occur after surgery, especially if you had a limited range of motion before due to the pain. Exercise can help alleviate this issue as you increase how far you can bend your knees with repetition. You may hear sounds coming from the knee after surgery, which after coincides with stiffness and swelling. Most of the time, these sounds mean nothing, but you should check with your doctor if you experience any of the issues.
Long-term Knee Replacement Problems
Knee replacement is a surgery that is expected to last for quite some time. The prosthesis may need to be replaced if it becomes loose. This surgery is called a revision knee replacement.
You may have an infection in the knee joint, which can happen at any time, even years down the road. Infections can occur for any number of reasons, but risks increase due to diabetes, malnutrition, obesity, smoking, and other conditions. These infections can be present in the body for years and not be noticeable until they have caused the prosthesis to loosen. If an infection occurs, the doctor will likely recommend antibiotics to treat it. You should consult with your doctor if you think something is wrong with your knee replacement.
If the infection is prolonged and causes the prosthesis to loosen, revision surgery may be necessary. The doctor may need to remove the prosthesis and replace it with a new one. In some cases, the replacement will be removed and the infection will need to be treated. The new replacement may result in a second surgery.
It’s important to note that infections from knee replacements are rare. Only a small number of patients typically develop an infection. The doctor will make recommendations to reduce the risk for each patient. They may recommend that you stop smoking before the surgery or improve your nutrition. They will likely start intravenous antibiotics during the surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
Late infections, or those that occur years after the knee replacement, are more difficult to treat. The knee replacement may lose some of its function, but most are treatable and allow the patient to regain their mobility.
Choose the Best Knee Replacement Surgeons
To avoid most of the problems associated with knee replacement, you should do your research to find the best knee replacement surgeons. They will prepare you for what to expect and alleviate your fears about common issues that occur after this type of surgery.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you meet with the surgeon. They will inform you on how you can help your own recovery to avoid most of these issues. Knee replacement surgery can be successful at reducing pain and improving mobility.