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Our knees allow us to do countless daily activities, such as walking, bending, turning and even standing. When they are severely damaged, doctors can replace knees with durable, long-lasting materials — using procedures that are increasingly less invasive. Here are answers to questions you may have if you’re thinking about having knee replacement surgery.
How do I know if surgery is the best option for a knee problem?
Total knee replacement offers relief to people whose knees have been damaged by some form of arthritis, most often osteoarthritis, or injury.
In the past, doctors considered the best candidates to be those between ages 60 and 75. But in recent decades, with improvements in materials and technology, more and more people of virtually all ages have had successful knee replacement surgery. In fact, for about 90 percent of those who choose it, this surgery drastically lessens pain, improves daily functioning and enhances overall quality of life.
Knee replacement might be your best option if physical therapy, medication or other treatments aren’t enough to control your pain. Your doctor can help you decide if this type of surgery is right for you.
What should I do to prepare for this operation?
You may need a complete physical. This helps your doctor determine whether you have health conditions that could interfere with the procedure. A visit to the dentist might be in order, too. While infections after knee replacement are rare, some dental problems could potentially trigger them.
Also, plan to get help with tasks such as cooking, shopping and bathing for several weeks after surgery.
Before your procedure, make your home easier to navigate. For instance, place safety bars or rails in the shower or bath, and handrails along stairways. Remove all loose rugs, and tuck electrical cords out of your way. Also helpful are a shower bench or chair, and a toilet seat riser with arms. If your bedroom isn’t on the first floor, arrange a temporary bedroom there. Going up and down stairs will likely pose a challenge during your early recovery.
Ask your doctor if you should do any exercises before surgery. Arm, chest and shoulder exercises may enable you to use crutches or a walker more easily. In addition, performing leg-strengthening exercises prior to surgery might bolster recovery.
How long will recovery take?
You’ll probably stay in the hospital for a few days. Once home, you will need to perform special exercises to rebuild muscles. You should be able to resume most normal activities within three to six weeks.
Will I be limited in activities after the procedure?
Artificial knees won’t hold up to high-impact sports such as soccer, tennis and football. But there are plenty of activities you most likely will be able to enjoy — bicycling, golfing, swimming, bowling and dancing, to name just a few.
Find a San Diego Orthopedic Surgeon
To learn more about orthopedics at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for San Diego orthopedic surgeons or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm.