Total Knee Replacement

Frequently Asked Questions

Minimally invasive surgery is a term that describes a combination of reducing the incision length and lessening tissue disruption beneath the incision. This includes cutting less muscle and detaching fewer tendons from bone. There have also been advancements in anesthesia and pain management during and after TKA. All of these practices allow you to feel better, have less pain, and regain function faster.

The orthopedic implant industry has developed a number of innovative technologies in an effort to improve the outcomes of Total Knee Replacement. In recent years, these technologies have been marketed directly to patients, which has increased the awareness as well as confusion on what these different designs mean. The most important message is that while a certain manufacturer may claim that their design is better, almost all of the available registry data shows that there is no clear advantage to any of these designs when it comes to improving outcomes.

You can expect your knee replacement to last between 15 and 20 years. Current data suggests that knee replacements have an annual failure rate between 0.5-1.0 percent. This means that if you have your total joint replaced today, you have a 90-95% chance that your joint will last 10 years, and a 80-85% that it will last 20 years. With improvements in technology, these numbers may improve.

Dr. Palmer prefers to use spinal anesthesia unless contraindicated. Spinal anesthesia can reduce complications and improve your recovery experience with less pain, less nausea, less narcotic medicine required, etc.

Recovery depends on your condition before surgery, additional medical problems, and your expectations. Most patients can return to work within 6 weeks. You will continue to feel better and better with an optimum recovery at the one year mark.

Pain following total knee replacement has come a long way over the last 10-15 years. Early range of motion and rapid rehabilitation protocols are designed to reduce early stiffness and pain, making the procedure in general much less painful than in years past. You may have relatively mild pain following the procedure, or you may have a more difficult time than others. Everyone is unique and handles and perceives pain differently. We will work with you to ensure optimal pain control.

You will likely stay in the hospital for 0-3 days depending on your rehabilitation protocol and how fast you progress with physical therapy. This is highly dependent upon your condition before surgery, your age, and medical problems which can hinder your rehabilitation. Many of Dr. Palmer’s patients are able to discharge the day of surgery or the next morning.

You will get up and fully weight bear with the assistance of a walker on the day of surgery. You will be able to ambulate with a cane or nothing at all by 1-2 weeks.

Dr. Palmer uses a waterproof dressing that allows you to shower the day after surgery. No tub baths, hot tub, swimming pool, etc. for 4-5 weeks.

Most people who have undergone TKA require outpatient physical therapy following surgery. Depending on your condition before surgery, physical therapy is beneficial for up to 3 months and rarely longer. The amount of therapy needed depends upon your condition before surgery, motivation, and general health.

If you have a sedentary job, such as computer work, you can expect to return to work by 6 weeks. If you have a more demanding job that requires lifting, walking, or travel, you may need up to 3 months for full recovery.

It is important to follow up with your surgeon after your joint replacement. In most cases, joint replacements last for many years. You need to meet with your treating doctor after surgery to ensure that your replacement is continuing to function well. In some cases, the replaced parts can start to wear out or loosen. The frequency of required follow up visits is dependent on many factors including your age, and demand levels placed on the joint. Dr. Palmer will consider all these factors and tailor a follow-up schedule to meet your needs. In general seeing him every 3-5 years is recommended.

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