Whether you’re heading in to get your own knee replaced or acting as a caregiver for a friend or family member planning to have knee replacement surgery, it is important for everyone involved to feel empowered and educated on the topic. Our Orthopedic Care Team compiled a list of the ten most common questions they receive from knee replacement patients.
What is knee replacement surgery?
Total knee replacement, also called “arthroplasty” is a surgical procedure to repair a knee damaged by osteoarthritis, or a severe injury to the joint. The process involves resurfacing the bone ends of the joint with artificial parts made of both stainless steel and plastic. After several months of recovery, most knee replacement patients report dramatic improvements in knee pain and ability to return to normal activities.
How long is the recovery?
The entire recovery process lasts several months and involves physical therapy, medication, use of support equipment, and plenty of rest. While everyone heals from their surgery at a different pace, you can download the Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline to use as a general reference.
How much pain will I have?
As with most surgical procedures, you will experience some pain, but do not fear – our staff works closely with you to develop a personalized pain management program.
What are my pain management options?
You will likely require pain medication for about two months. Initially, you will need stronger medications (narcotics). Most people are able to wean off of their strong medication after one month and switch to OTC pain medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen. Be sure to always talk to your doctor about your medication and pain management concerns.
How long will I be using a walker?
You will be restricted to using either a walker or crutches for 2-3 weeks after your operation. After that, you will be able to advance to using a cane outdoors and no support while walking around the house. Don't worry - as you regain your strength and confidence, you will eventually get back to walking indoors and outdoors without any assistance.
When can I go back to work?
With your surgeon’s approval, you may return to work after one month if your job is generally sedentary. However, you will have to wait until three months if your work is rigorous. Even then, take caution and try not to overdo it.
How much will it cost me?
Your out-of-pocket cost for joint replacement surgery depends on your insurance plan. Our financial counselors are available to assist you with understanding your expenses. You can consult with them at the Joint Replacement Preparation Class, or by calling (509) 336-7466.
What are my discharge options?
Discharge goals are individualized based on the patient. The Orthopedic Care Team will consult your insurance and collaborate with you and your family to determine if you are eligible for outpatient therapy, swing bed, home health, or a skilled nursing facility for short-term rehabilitation. Visit the Joint Replacement page to learn more about each of these options.
When can I start driving again?
With your surgeon’s approval, you may return to driving as soon as one month after surgery, as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Remember – DO NOT drive if you are taking narcotics.
What can I do to prepare for the best outcome?
While our staff promises to do everything we can to ensure your total joint success, what you do matters just as much. Attend the preparation class, do your best to get in shape prior to surgery, follow your doctor’s orders, and never hesitate to ask questions.
You might also enjoy reading:
- 10 Benefits to Having Your Total Joint Surgery at Pullman Regional Hospital
- 5 Ways to Prepare for Your Joint Replacement Surgery
- Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline